SEPTEMBER 22, 1899


Elsie, born near Santa Rosa, California (CA), grew up in Cloverdale & in Hopland. She worked in the fields until age 11, attended school from 1911-15, and then worked as a domestic, married & had 4 children before again working in the fields. At age 62, Allen finally devoted herself to basket weaving. Her mother & grandmother were noted basket weavers. Elsie taught the art at the Mendocino Art Center so that the art & its traditions not be lost. A female chief, she promoted education, cultural preservation, and Indian rights. Seen as a cultural scholar, Elsie was known as “Pomo Sage,” and acquired an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. In 1972, she authored Pomo Basket Making: A Supreme Art for the Weaver. From 1979-81, with the Native American Advisory Council & the Army Corps of Engineers, Elsie worked on an ethnobotanical mitigation study for the Warm Springs Dam-Lake Sonoma Project resulting in a major relocation of endangered plants. Allen died December 31, 1990. A Santa Rosa school is named for her.

Source:  “Elsie Allen, 1899-1990,” University Library at Sonoma State University. Retrieved 3/21/2022, 
Elsie Allen, 1899-1990 | University Library at Sonoma State University
Photo:  Dorothy Morehead Hill, 1975. Elsie Allen (left) and Ida Sores (right) at Round Valley (slide), September 1975. Source: Dorothy Morehead Hill Collection, Item No. sc32484. Courtesy of the California State University, Chico, Meriam Library Special Collections (Item No. MSS 160).

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