I grew up in a suburb of Portland, Oregon far away from Hoopa and wasn’t raised in a family that participated in ceremony or talked much about where we were from. We visited my grandmother in Hoopa during the summers, and that was pretty much it. I didn’t know any other Hoopa people besides my family, and none of us had basket caps. I had seen basket caps before but always thought of them as faraway things, something that was not for me to have or hold. I felt so envious of the girls I saw in pictures who looked pretty in their caps. I didn’t even know how to put one on.
The first time I wore a basket cap I was at the Marin Art of the Americas Show with my friend Vanessa Esquivido. When I told her that I hadn’t worn a cap before, she took me to a table of them and began putting them on my head, looking for a perfect fit. Vanessa was also with me when I finally found my cap almost a year later at another Native American art show in Davis. We walked together to a table full of basket caps and I saw my cap on a shelf. It was so beautiful that I was worried it wasn’t going to fit, but it did. Vanessa helped me buy the cap and told me it was her early graduation gift to me. I wore my cap for the rest of the day and I couldn’t stop smiling, I felt like I had been introduced to myself in a whole new way. I have worn my cap to ceremony, to academic conferences across the country, to my graduation celebration, and just around the house when I felt like I needed to. My cap reminds me to be patient and deliberate about the things I do. It is the most precious thing I own because it is a part of me. Now I am one of the girls who looks pretty in her cap, ts’ehdiya whixo’ji-q’osta:n.
Stephanie Lumsden, M.A. (Hoopa Valley Tribe). Stephanie Lumsden received her M.A. in Native American
Studies from the University of California, Davis in 2014. In 2011 Stephanie received her BA in Women’s Studies with a Minor in Native American Studies from Portland State University. Her Master’s thesis research focuses on Native American women and the prison-industrial complex in California.
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