Jennifer Bates has been a basketmaker for over four decades. She began learning traditional Mewuk basketry at the age of 17, studying with family members and tribal elders, including Julia Parker, Mable McKay, Dorothy Stanley, and Craig Bates. She was a founding board member of the California Indian Basketweavers Association (CIBA) and was their chairperson for thirteen years. Jennifer is of Central Sierra Mewuk (Miwok) descent and is a member of the Tuolumne Rancheria, where she continues to teach basketry, including traditional methods of gathering and processing raw materials, as well as weaving techniques. Additionally, Bates has also become well recognized for demonstrating acorn processing, specifically making traditional acorn soup, ‘nupa,’ and cooking in traditional baskets and using hot rocks.
As a master artist in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program in 2017, Jennifer Bates will mentor her apprentice, Daveen Williams in making a het-ta-lu, a Mewuk sifting basket. During the apprenticeship Bates and Williams will spend much time in gathering and processing the plant material utiilized in constructing the basket.
Jennifer was a master artist in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program in 2011, with her apprentice Jeri Scambler. During their apprenticeship, Jennifer taught Jeri how to make a traditional het-ta-lu tray used to sift pounded acorn into flour. The lessons covered the entire weaving process from beginning to end, including gathering and processing native materials, including sedge root, red bud, and deer grass.