Wappo Indians of Napa County


The Wappos were known for their baskets. The baskets were made by weaving parts of plants that were growing in the valley. They used the gray willow, redbud, and sedge plants. The baskets were so tightly woven that they could hold water or be used in cooking foods such as nuts. Beads and feathers were sometimes woven into the baskets. The beads were made from shells brought back from the coast.

The naturally black root of the bulrush was used for the black design in Wappo baskets. Wappo Weavers discovered that they could enhance the blackness of the root by soaking them in a metal can. Redbud bark was woven into baskets to create red designs. The tan background, is from the sedge root. A newly woven basket might appear to be almost white because of the light color of new growth roots split for weaving. The sedge root, however will darken with age, becoming first a nice beige color and later tan. Over time this tan color may darken to light brown.

The Wappos also used their weaving skills to make nets for catching fish and carrying boards that mothers used to carry their babies as they worked.

How else did the Wappos use plants? Look on the plant page!

Try this: Look for plants around your neighborhood that you could use in basket making. What qualities should a plant have to be useful?

Internet connection: Did the Wappos use the same plants as other tribes in their basket making? How do the designs on their baskets compare to other tribes' baskets?

Visit: The Napa Valley Museum in Yountville, Sharpsteen Museum in Calistoga, or the Historical Society in Napa to see more baskets.

Index -Maps -Jewelry -Baskets- Animals they Hunted

Plants they used -Legend -Houses -Language -Tools -Games