Elena & Pearl Mendez
Miniature Horsehair Baskets

“I love and appreciate my mother
for this artistic gift I inherited from her.”


Cultural Community: Tohono O’Odham
Location: Tucson, AZ

Elena Mendez

My name is Elena Mendez I am from the Tohono O’odham tribe. I grew up in a little farming town called Stanfield, Arizona, and was the only female in my family; I have three brothers.

Times were hard for my father when we had rainy days and he’d be out of work. So my mother continued the basket weaving that she learned from her Auntie when she was 13 years old, she taught me when I was 14. My mom got invited to basket weaving shows in Scottsdale. My father would drive us and help us sell our baskets — this was my mother’s employment and how she helped my father support our family.

I was proud of my parents later in life and now that I have four kids, I’ve taught my two daughters how to weave as well. My eldest learned at 12 and my youngest learned at 9. Now we weave together and attend events here in Tucson. I love and appreciate my mother for this artistic gift I inherited from her