Basket Tray depicting a Diamondback Rattlesnake

Lenora Linton LaChusa, Diegueno / American, 1877 - 1965
Kumeyaay (Diegueno)
California culture


See Previous Article See next Article

collected 1905

Grass, sumac, rush, and sea blight

Overall: 1 1/16 × 10 11/16 in. (2.7 × 27.2 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Bequest of Frank C. and Clara G. Churchill



Place Made: Mesa Grande, United States, North America


20th century

Object Name


Research Area

Native American

Native American: California Culture

Not on view


Both objects in this case refer to the ways environmental ecology informs sociocultural understandings and design. Lenora LaChusa’s basket tray features a diamondback rattlesnake, with its rattle at the center and body coiling outward, following the structure of the basket. While the rattlesnake design did not appear in baskets until the turn of the twentieth century, the design was inspired by this dangerous predator, which had long coexisted alongside the Ipai.

Although also inspired by ecological phenomenon, Severa Tafoya’s Tewa blackware pot is incised not with an animal, but with a zoomorphic being, the legendary Avanyu (water serpent). Representational of both earthly and otherworldly phenomena, the Avanyu symbolizes clouds, rain, lightning, and water places, but also the connection between the terrestrial and the heavenly, a sustainer of life in the temperamental desert landscape of the Southwest.

From the 2022 exhibition This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World,  curated by Jami C. Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art; Barbara J. MacAdam, former Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art; Thomas H. Price, former Curatorial Assistant; Morgan E. Freeman, former DAMLI Native American Art Fellow; and Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

Course History

ANTH 7.05, Animals and Humans, Laura Ogden, Winter 2022

GEOG 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Winter 2022

ANTH 50.05, Environmental Archaeology, Madeleine McLeester, Winter 2022

ANTH 50.05, Environmental Archaeology, Madeleine McLeester, Winter 2022

ARTH 5.01, Introduction to Contemporary Art, Mary Coffey and Chad Elias, Winter 2022

ANTH 3.01, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Summer 2022

ANTH 3.01, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Summer 2022

SPAN 65.15, Wonderstruck: Archives and the Production of Knowledge in an Unequal World, Silvia Spitta and Barbara Goebel, Summer 2022

Exhibition History

This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, Owen Robertson Cheatham Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 5–July 22, 2022.


Made by Lenora Linton LaChusa, Mesa Grande, California; Clara G. Corser Turner Churchill (1851-1945) and Frank Carroll Churchill (1850-1912), Mesa Grande, California, probably, April 1905; bequeathed to present collection, 1946.

This record is part of an active database that includes information from historic documentation that may not have been recently reviewed. Information may be inaccurate or incomplete. We also acknowledge some language and imagery may be offensive, violent, or discriminatory. These records reflect the institution’s history or the views of artists or scholars, past and present. Our collections research is ongoing.

We welcome questions, feedback, and suggestions for improvement. Please contact us at: