Featured Artist: Molley McCurdy

Molley McCurdy

Molley McCurdy. Utah State Archives, 1986.

Molley McCurdy grew up near Ibapah, Utah in the early 1900s. As a child, she watched her aunts make twined willow baskets. As a young girl, she helped prepare the collected stalks of willow and young sumac. She did so by splitting the stalks into thin strips using her hands and teeth. She then learned how to weave the different types of baskets.

Before her death in 1994, Molley was among the few remaining weavers who could create traditional basket forms. Her works are still valued for their beauty and roots in tradition. In 1986, she received the Utah Governor's Award for her basketry. 

Collection of Goshute Baskets

Pine Cone Basket (Left), Berry Basket (Right), Winnowing Basket (Center), Molley McCurdy. Utah State Archives, 1986.

Goshute Buckskin Gloves

Buckskin Gloves, Molley McCurdy. Utah State Archives, 1986.

Goshute Gathering

The harvesting of wild foods was and still is, very important to the Goshute people who have always demonstrated remarkable ingenuity in adapting to the harsh conditions of the western Utah desert. Traditionally, Goshute women and girls labored to gather water, collect seeds, prepare foods, and make baskets and clothing similar to these made by Molley McCurdy.

Each item's shape makes these tasks easier. Collected seeds are separated from unwanted plant pieces using a winnowing basket. Pinyon pines and various berries are put in baskets ideally shaped for preventing damage to these foods. Gloves, while used by women for gathering, are often created and sold to local ranchers for money to buy materials for making baskets.

To learn more about Goshute traditions and their relationship with the desert environment, watch the video below.