Woven Mats

Chickasaw Culture Keepers

When Kelley Lunsford weaves, she likes to think about the Chickasaw women who practiced the craft before her, imagining that they are cheering her on. This Chickasaw weaver began finger weaving more than 20 years ago, then moved on to basket weaving and began experimenting with natural fibers and dyes. Eventually she decided to make her first traditional woven mat, using black walnuts and pecans for dye. Her usual material is the durable and soft river cane that grows plentifully in the Homeland. As she mastered the craft of mat weaving, Lunsford has incorporated unconventional materials such as Super 8 film, giving a contemporary flair to the ancient art. She says that weaving requires mathematical thinking and plenty of patience, and that it has helped her to find calm in a hectic world. Lunsford is inspired by her opportunity to teach weaving to her artistically inclined daughter, and she feels that the ancestors are happy to see her continuing their traditions.