Elizabeth Hickox

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Elizabeth Hickox

Elizabeth Conrad Hickox (1872- July 19, 1947) was a Wiyot master basket weaver and was considered one of the finest basket-weavers of her time.[1] Her baskets differ from other Lower Klamath baskets through her own unique use of shape, technique, color scheme and design.[2][3] Her work is in the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian,[4] the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art,[5] Harvard's Peabody Museum,[6] the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Southwest Museum of Los Angeles,[7] the Denver Art Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.[8]


Hickox's mother was Wiyot and her father, European-American.[9] It was reported that Hickox's mother, Polly, had been abducted by her later husband, Charles Conrad.[10] When Elizabeth was in her teens, she married Frank Merrill, a part-Karuk man, and they had two children together, Jessie and Bruce.[11] She later married Luther Hickox in 1895.[11] Luther Hickox owned a gold mine, was a part owner of a sawmill and later became a justice of the peace.[9] The couple enjoyed a high social status among the Karuk people, as well as financial security.[11]

When Hickox was alive she lived along the Salmon River in Northern California.[1]

Hickox died on July 19, 1947.[12]


Hickox used various materials to weave her baskets including grape root twining, white bear grass (Xerophyllum tenax), dyed wooodwardia fern, black maidenhair fern and dyed porcupine quills.[13] She tended to use the fern Adiantum aleuticum, a dark material in contrast to the quills of the porcupine dyed yellow with Letharia vulpina.[4] The choice to mostly use dark materials contrasted with the yellow was her own choice, and not subject to marketplace demands.[14] She made about five baskets a year between 1911 and 1934.[4]

Hickox and her daughter, Louise, weaved and sold their baskets to Grace Nicholson, who continued to buy their work even during the Great Depression.[15] Though Hickox was Wiyot, Nicholson marketed her baskets as "Karuk" because they lived in the Karuk area.[9] Before Hickox met Nicholson, she had already chosen to create fine-art baskets.[16] After Nicholson stopped purchasing baskets in 1934, Hickox continued to weave "for pleasure, utility and gift-giving."[17]



  1. ^ a b "Elizabeth Hickox lidded baskets - Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian - George Gustav Heye Center, New York". nmai.si.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-04. 
  2. ^ Cohodas 1999, p. 143.
  3. ^ Delia Sullivan, Heritage Capital Corporation, 2009, Heritage Auctions American Indian Art Auction Catalog #6029, Dallas, TX, Retrieved August 25, 2016, see page 42
  4. ^ a b c Rentz, Erin. "Elizabeth Hickox (Wiyot/Karuk, 1875–1947), lidded baskets". Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian. Smithsonian. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  5. ^ "LRMA Collection and Programs". Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  6. ^ "Two Women: The Native Basket Weaver and the 'Curio' Dealer". Inside the Peabody Museum: March 2012. Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University. 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  7. ^ Cohodas 1999, p. 152.
  8. ^ Cohodas 1999, p. 153.
  9. ^ a b c Cohodas 1999, p. 150.
  10. ^ Cohodas 1997, p. 83.
  11. ^ a b c Cohodas 1997, p. 89.
  12. ^ Cohodas 1997, p. 111.
  13. ^ Cohodas, Marvin (2009). Heritage Auctions American Indian Art Auction Catalog #6029, Dallas, TX. Heritage Auction Galleries. p. 42. 
  14. ^ Cohodas 1999, p. 157.
  15. ^ Marks, Ben (1 July 2014). "How Railroad Tourism Created the Craze for Traditional Native American Baskets". Collectors Weekly. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  16. ^ Cohodas 1999, p. 158.
  17. ^ Cohodas 1997, p. 110.


  • Cohodas, Marvin (1997). Basket Weavers for the California Curio Trade: Elizabeth and Louise Hickox. The University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0816515182. 
  • Cohodas, Marvin (1999). "Elizabeth Hickox and Karuk Basketry". In Phillips, Ruth B.; Steiner, Christopher B. Unpacking Culture: Art and Commodity in Colonial and Postcolonial Worlds. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520207974. 

External links

  • Elizabeth Hickox Treasure Basket (video)
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