Grandmother Nellie

Grandma Nellie was a child during the wars between the Apaches, the Mexicans, and the United States. As an adult, her greatest concerns were to protect her children and kin from the continuing threats of attacks. To prove their independence from the U.S. government, she helped my grandfather make life more secure through their hard work.

She knew firsthand about receiving spoiled meat and little food at San Carlos, the U.S government's initial attempt to establish a single Apache reservation. The Apache people's heritage was as hunter-gatherers, and being forced to live on a small piece of land was a great hardship for them. The saddlebag in this exhibit was probably used on wide-ranging travels to visit friends. In my first recollections of the saddlebag, it was hung in my grandmother's house to store her personal possessions.

My Grandma and I gathered berries from the mullberry bush for the unfinished water jug displayed. It is the last basket she worked on. There were times when we would go up the mountain to collect pine tree pitch to finish a water jug. She boiled the sap until it was smooth and runny enough to pour inside the basket and then outside. This would seal the holes and make it waterproof.