traditional artisans of baja california


The article by Mike Wilken about the traditional arts of Baja is especially interesting because these traditions are the same which have been in practice in our own area.  As was shown in the movie La Familia, the border between California and Mexico was a construct which did not take into consideration the indigenous culture it split in two. This is addressed in the article with the opening page, a Paipai elder is showing Baja and native plants to young people from the Kumeyaay reservation north of the border.  The threat of sunburn and trouble from border patrol are equal, but the quest remains the same in that native plants are being worked into traditional preparations for a new generation.  All of the natural world is sustainably manipulated by the indigenous peoples living off of the land for a wide range of purposes; multi-purpose fibers, decorative and functional baskets, clay pottery made from local, specific clays, clothes, and hunting technology such as bows.  

One theme I noticed throughout the piece was the limited number of artisans who still know these ancient practices.  I believe we are so amazingly domesticated, if for any reason we could not live within the comforts we are used to we would surely flounder.  I notice that survival in our natural environments and respect for the earth which provides these abilities is shifting into awareness for many people across the globe. Wilken mentioned the important fact that the gathering of local plants and earth is done with extreme awareness and without greed- if a people took all of their resources at once for instant bounty and gratification, then the next year there will be nothing for them to use. How this didn’t translate into our current state of existence I couldn’t say, but I am grateful for traditional peoples teaching ancient practices and for younger generations learning  them.  

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