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Washoe Basketmaker Dat-So-La-Lee

Dat-So-La-Lee was a Native American woman, a member of the Washoe tribe. The Washoes had traditionally occupied territory in Carson Valley, Nevada and Alpine County, California.  A skilled basket maker, she became famous for her degikup baskets, a circular basket that is woven into a distinctive shape with an expanded middle, having the base of the basket and the top opening of equal dimensions.

The date of her birth is unknown, but was probably sometime around the middle of the 19th century.  Her family lived in the Carson Valley, and Dat-So-La-Lee, also known as Louisa Keyser, cooked and laundered for miners, a common occupation for native women after Euro-American settlement.  She worked for a family in Alpine County, California, and by 1895 was making baskets to sell.  A Carson City merchant, Abe Cohn, sold her baskets in his emporium and became her sponsor.  Dat-So-La-Lee and her third husband, Charlie Keyser, were supported by the Cohns in exchange for the beautifully crafted baskets.  She wove baskets for Abe Cohn for thirty years, from 1895 until her death in 1925.