Pat Courtney Gold grew up on the Warm Springs Reservation in the mid-Columbia River area of Central Oregon. When visiting local museums, her mother, an accomplished beadworker would point to the displays and say with pride, "Those are our baskets; our ancestors made these." In her youth Pat was taken off to a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school where her hair was cut and she was made to wear a standard issue oversized dress. She went on to earn a B.A. in mathematics and physics from Whitman College and she embarked on a career as a mathematician and computer specialist. In 1991, she studied and helped revive the making of Wasco sally bags, twined root-digging bags, through the Oregon Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. This launched her on a new career path dedicated to the preservation of her cultural heritage. She says, "As I began focusing more on my weaving, I also became aware that the technical technique was only a small facet of what I was doing. The other component was that I was dealing with a whole ancestral heritage. I felt as though the ancestors were waiting for somebody like me to come forward and that all this energy was being focused and funneled through me." Today Pat Courtney Gold is recognized internationally as an exquisite weaver who incorporates designs that express the cultural life of her people, not only traditional images but also figures that comment on contemporary life such as yuppie Indians and local environmental degradation.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency