Nevada State Museum unveils new Datsolalee medallion in honor of Women’s History Month

The Nevada State Museum unveiled a new medallion in honor of Women’s History Month on March 20, 2024.

The new medallion honors Dat So La Lee, the “Queen of the Basket Weavers.”

Dat So La Lee, or Louisa Keyser, was a prominent Washoe weaver at the turn of the last century. Her works of art are highly sought after to this day. The new medallion is second in the Women’s History Series; the first was Agnes Train, one of the first women curators to work at the Nevada State Museum in the 1940s.

The new design was composed by Museum Exhibits Preparator Jeanette McGregor and sculpted by U.S. Mint sculptor Tom Rogers. The half-ounce .999 fine silver medallions are struck on historic Coin Press No. 1. This working artifact is the original coin press which made United States currency from 1870-1893 when Carson City hosted a branch of the United States Mint.

The Datsolalee medallion concept was approved and completed in conjunction with the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.

“It’s important as we honor the contributions of prominent women in Nevada history that we represent all Nevadans, including this amazing indigenous woman,” said Museum Director Josh Bonde.

“Part of our mission at the Nevada State Museum is to create ways in which our audience feels connected and represented,” said Anna Camp, museum tribal liaison. “My hope is that our Native American partners and visitors see this medallion as a reflection of themselves, their families, and their contributions to Nevada’s past and present.”

Louisa Keyser’s (ca. 1850-1925) baskets are celebrated for their artistic beauty and technological excellence. She was best known by her Washoe name Datsolalee (“wide hipped woman”) or Dat So La Lee, and her career parallels the history of the Arts and Crafts Movement in the United States. Her complex personal and unusual economic relationships with Emporium store owners, Abe, and Amy Cohn, allowed her to pursue her craft as their full-time ‘employee.’ Despite their questionable promotion of her baskets and exploitation of an indigenous artist, they respected her as an individual closely tied to their family.

Dat So La Lee had the time to perfect her skills and experiment with her baskets’ shapes and design motifs. The body of her documented work spans 30 years, and her 120 ‘major works’ reflect distinct phases within her career. Wealthy collectors still actively purchase and trade her known baskets and seek previously unrecognized examples of her work.

Datsolalee Commemorative Medallion is displayed in front of historic Coin Press No. 1.
Datsolalee Commemorative Medallion displayed in front of Coin Press No. 1