Bill Tsi’li’xw James and Fran James
Bill Tsi’li’xw James (American | Lummi, born 1944, died 2020); Fran James (American | Lummi, born 1924, died 2013)
Late Lummi Nation elder and master weaver Fran James and her son, late artist and Lummi Nation Chief Bill Tsi’li’xw James, worked together to create traditional baskets and art objects. In the 1960s, just a handful of people in Washington were still weaving, notes curator Barbara Brotherton. “It was such an endangered art form. It is through their efforts that mountain-goat weaving and sheep-wool weaving never died out.”
Bill Tsi’li’xw James was a teacher of culture, language and art, as well as a hereditary chief for the Lummi Nation of Northwestern Washington. He brought his people’s culture to the fight to save southern resident orca whales, salmon and the Salish Sea, and to block construction of a coal port at Cherry Point.
Fran James was a master weaver. She tutored generations of students since the 1970s in the arts of her ancestors, weaving cedar bark and wool. She was also an expert in washing, carding, spinning, dyeing, and weaving raw sheep wool and mountain-goat wool. Fran James was inducted into the Northwest Women's Hall of Fame. Her artwork is featured at Seattle Art Museum, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, and many private collections and museums all over the world.
The Lummi Nation is of the Coast Salish group in Northwestern Washington State.