Gathering Chia documents Abe Sanchez (Purapeche); Marian Walkingstick (Acjachemen); Diania Caudell (Luiseño); Irving Morales (Luiseño); and Maureen Castillo (Cupeño) harvesting the tiny black seeds of the chia plant, a vitally important edible food for southwest native people. The group are basket weavers passionately interested in anything related to traditional native basketry. In southern California, chia seeds were harvested using a seed beater woven from willow and other local basketry plants. The seeds were collected in a a burden basket or basket tray, then winnowed to remove the chaff using a woven winnowing tray. Except for Abe, no one is using traditional tools, but rather whatever is at hand. Irving is beating the seed heads with a fly swatter and using a plastic bucket to collect them. Although his pink plastic fly swatter works well enough as a seed beater, it doesn't have the beauty or resonance of a woven seedbeater. And the red bucket from Home Depot, although inexpensive and functional, lacks any connection to the gathering site unlike traditional collecting baskets woven with the the local juncus, deergrass, Rhus trilobata, and yucca.
This video is part of a larger project to document traditional gathering practices in southern California. Music is by composer William Bradbury.