Indian traditions are alive and well at Mission San Juan Capistrano,
thanks to a small group who have maintained the art of basket weaving.
Marie Olivares Romero, Ellen Sue Olivares and Kim Olivares Leone
teach basket weaving the first and third Wednesdays of each month
at the mission. It has become an integral part of the mission's
efforts to preserve the area's history and traditions.
is the aunt of Olivares and Leone, who are half sisters.
has been weaving baskets about 35 years. She came up with the idea
during San Juan's celebration of the mission's 200th anniversary
we reached out in the '70s, I was a docent," she said. "I
come from five generations of docents. We started looking for something
to recognize the history. The 200th anniversary triggered it in
us. The whole city, we celebrated for one whole year. I started
basket weaving and I liked it. I kept it up because I got so interested
in the culture."
soon learned that basket weaving involves an intricate process.
She learned that getting the materials requires more than a trip
to the store.
have to find a place to gather, so we'd go to the river for materials,
but it was all concrete in the '70s," she said. "We have
to go into the wild for materials, like juncus and yucca. Once you
have the materials, you have to dry 'em, then size 'em, then cut
'em. It takes a long time from beginning to end."
said she donates some of the baskets she makes, and saves many to
give to a museum someday.
said her intent when making baskets "is to capture the culture
of our elders and teach other generations."
says her 7-year-old granddaughter is "learning all of our traditions,
and it is rewarding to know I'm showing two generations."
a family tradition that Romero says was meant to be.
lived all my life two blocks away from the mission," she said.
"Sometimes you're meant to be in one spot. I knew if I married
someone from here, I'd never leave."
married the now-deceased Bill Romero, whose father worked at the
mission and knew how to make adobe.
mission, for our kids, for our family, has always been our playground,"
Teeter Romero said.