Dat So La Lee

Dat so la leeBorn in 1825 near Lake Tahoe, Dat So La Lee later gained considerable fame as a basket maker.

During much of her adult life, she worked as a housekeeper and cleaning woman. In 1895, however, her talent at weaving baskets was recognized by Amy Cohn, wife of prominent Carson City merchant Abe Cohn.

The Cohns’ aggressively marketed Dat So La Lee’s baskets and even concocted colorful Indian stories and legends to describe the design of each. Soon, Dat So La Lee’s work gained international acclaim and, during her lifetime, one of her baskets sold for five thousand dollars. She would sometimes spend as much as a year weaving a single basket.

Today, some of her baskets have been valued at more than a quarter of a million dollars. Experts recognize Dat So La Lee, a member of the Washo Indian tribe, as having been an innovator in basket making because she introduced unique, non-traditional designs and materials in the making of her baskets. Dat So La Lee died in 1925 and is buried at the Stewart Cemetery on Snyder Avenue. Her grave reads, “Myriads of stars shine over the graves of our ancestors.”