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Biographies Unit Biographies

Elsie Allen 1899–1990
Pomo Basket Weaver and Community Leader

Elsie Allen was a Pomo Indian who helped keep alive the traditions of her people. She was so admired for her knowledge of Pomo culture that she was known as “Pomo Sage.” A sage is a very wise person.

Allen was born near Santa Rosa. She grew up watching her mother and grandmother making baskets. The Pomo have a tradition that when a woman dies, her baskets are buried with her. Before Allen's mother died, however, she asked her daughter to save her baskets. She wanted Allen to use the baskets to teach others about Pomo culture.

Allen did as her mother asked. She became an expert basket weaver and teacher. She published a book about Pomo basket making. Allen also worked for education and Pomo Indian rights in her community. She helped write a history of the Pomo people. Today, Allen's daughter carries on her mother's work of basket weaving and teaching.

Comprehension Check

Why did Allen keep her mother's baskets after her mother died?

Critical Thinking

What character traits would you use to describe Elsie Allen? Explain your answer.