Lizzie Enos shibuichi
“Lizzie Enos” shibuichi (silver and copper alloy I melted up). Hand forged and chased. The image is of a Maidu basket made decades ago by my great, great grandmother Lizzie Enos, who I was named after. I was an administrator for the Inspirational Women belt of the now infamous “ConchoGate” affair. More to come on that, stay tuned. It took a lot of work, threats, tears, and sneakiness to get it back onto the belt with most of the other original pieces. The Inspirational Women theme was my idea, since most tribes in the Americas were matrilineal and even matriarchal. I figured it would be a great statement of solidarity and decolonization. We worked on it since the fall of 2013, and I worked on my piece for 2 months.
Lizzie Enos and her brother were children when the town of Auburn, CA, put the word out that they were giving away free clothes and blankets. They turned out to be infected with smallpox, however, and she and her brother were the only survivors. Because Northern California tribes tended to live spread out, it was difficult for the ’49 ers and other settlers to exterminate them en masse. There were bounties on heads, children captured and auctioned off as slaves (young girls as young as 9 usually fetched high prices), and a statewide campaign to eradicate oaks, their main food source. The Forest Service routinely chained oaks and they were cut down and dynamited all over California to make room for wheat, barley, wine grapes, oranges, and other foreign crops. Every time I put an acorn in my work, it’s a prayer to protect the existing oaks and to plant more. A mature oak can drop 500 pounds of acorns a year, which are rich in fiber, vitamins, and Omega 3s. Cheers for Native superfood!