Dat So La Lee
Dat So La Lee (1834-1925) was the most famous of Nevada Indian basket weavers. She was born around 1834 in the hills south of the Carson Valley, and supposedly at age 10 saw the American explorer John C. Frémont pass through on one of his expeditions. Later she became a housekeeper and cook for the growing number of white families who were moving to the valley.
All through her life she worked at the craft of basket weaving. One of the boys in a family she kept house for, Abe Cohn, took an especial interest in her work, and when he later grew up and opened a store in Carson City, he started selling her baskets out of the shop window. The baskets sold well, and he soon invited Dat So La Lee to move to Carson City where he would put her up in a house and pay all her expenses so she could work exclusively on making baskets. She agreed, and in 1895 he had a cabin built next door to his own house. She lived here for the next 30 years, until her death in 1925.
Dat So La Lee was considered the best at the art of basket weaving. When she was a girl she had been taught how to weave baskets out of necessity; they were needed to carry and store food and other items. But by the turn of the century they had become decorative items, and Abe Cohn was able to get thousands of dollars for each basket. They were sold all over the country, and many of them have ended up in museums today.