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Luwana Quitiquit, 1941-2011

Luwana Quitiquit of Nice, Calif., died on Friday, December 23, 2011, at her home. She was 70 years old. Photo courtesy of the Quitiquit family.


Luwana Fay Quitiquit, an Eastern Pomo, passed away on Dec. 23, 2011, in Nice, California.

Luwana was born Nov. 13, 1941 in Isleton, Calif.

She is survived by her children, Alan Harrison, Christina Harrison and Suelumatra Castillo; grandchildren, Marie Andrade, Elizabeth Davis, Solomon Douglas, Miranda Douglas; greatgrandchildren, Christian and Delicia; sisters, and brothers, Patricia A. Thompson, Marion C. Quitiquit, Steven D. Quitiquit, Cheryl A. Anderson, Godfrey D. Quitiquit, Wanda A. Quitiquit, Denise A. Quitiquit, Lalaine A. Quitiquit, Michael W. Quitiquit, Robert F. Quitiquit, Irenia A. Quitiquit; and many nieces and nephews.

Luwana was predeceased by her son, Tyrone A. Douglas; mother, Marie Boggs Quitiquit of Robinson Rancheria, Nice, Calif.; father, Claro A. Quitiquit of Stockton, Calif.; and brothers Lawrence Thompson, Ludwig, Gregory, and Adrian Quitiquit.

Luwana grew up in the Stockton Delta in the agricultural area of Union Island along the Middle River of Clifton Court Bay.

She attended David Bixler elementary, and graduated from Tracy Joint Union School. Her entire family worked as farm laborers in the Delta.

In November of 1969 during her employment at U.C. Berkeley, she was one of the first to land on Alcatraz Island where she remained until the occupation ended in 1971.

Luwana received her bachelor's degree in sociology from U.C. Berkeley in 1977. Since then, she became very active as a scholar and researcher, and worked as director of various California Indian organizations where she was at the forefront of the changes and challenges in California Indian country.

Luwana traveled to New Zealand and Australia, where she met with indigenous leaders who encouraged her to act on preserving her Pomo culture and heritage.

Luwana learned Pomo basketry from renowned weavers such as Mabel McKay, and became highly proficient at making Pomo baby cradles and opentwined baskets. She believed that anyone wanting to become a weaver must also learn the methods for gathering, cleaning and storing the basketry materials; thus, she felt strongly about educating and teaching basketry, and began demonstrating basketry and doing speaking engagements.

Luwana was a visionary and always had an idea to promote and better her art work; she was a “multitasker” when it came to her projects, such as beaded leather dresses and shirts in the traditional style. She was an expert abalone jeweler, and produced exquisite bead work.

As a businesswoman, she owned and operated the Pomo Fine Art Gallery in Lucerne, Calif. She traveled extensively throughout California promoting and selling her artwork.

Luwana was very successful at writing grants to educate, preserve and cultivate basketry materials; including the importance of sustaining natural plant habitats for use and for future generations.

Recently, Luwana joined the Elder’s Talking Circle and looked forward to teaching traditional Pomo art at the new Circle of Native Minds Wellness Center.

In December, 2008, Luwana and her entire family were disenrolled from Robinson Rancheria, and she became very active in fighting this injustice.

In retaliation, the illegal council at Robinson took action to evict Luwana and four other disenrolled families from their longstanding homes. Serving as spokeswoman, Luwana was instrumental in raising needed funds for their legal battle to retain their homes.

Her close friend Sandy Elgin said, “Luwana taught a cultural wellness class at the health clinic that became a class model for other tribal clinics in California. She was, and still is, a legend with a gentle spirit that will live on forever.”

On Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011, during the day, a wake will be held at Luwana’s home at 1019 Manzanita Circle, Robinson Rancheria, Nice, Calif.

Later that afternoon, a dinner will be held in her honor at 3 p.m. at the Upper Lake Odd Fellows in Upper Lake, Calif.

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