Release Date: June 21, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office
More than 30 years ago, Sue Fish wanted to quit her first basket weaving class. Instead, she has been perfecting her craft for more than three decades, and freely shares her knowledge with others. Fish gives much of the credit to her late cousin and teacher, Betty Dodd.
“I wanted to bow out from my first basket weaving class,” Fish said. “Betty wouldn’t let me. I am so glad she was persistent and made me go. I am focused on basket weaving and reviving the process, especially within the Chickasaw Nation.”
The artist said she hopes to instill basket appreciation in everyone, both artists and buyers alike. She eagerly demonstrates her techniques while teaching at various community schools and universities, libraries, museums and events.
“The first basket class I taught was for the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center’s Native American Club, when it was located in Oklahoma City,” Fish said in a 2017 Chickasaw Times article. “We wove sweet grass baskets with natural materials from the Seminole Florida natives. “I love sharing some of the processes our ancestors may have experienced in basket making. It’s an important way I connect with my culture,” Fish said.
An avid member of the First American art community, Fish is enthusiastic about sharing her passion for preserving Southeastern basketry. Serving as vice president of the Oklahoma Native American Basketweavers Association, she strives to revive river cane basketry. Fish has made lifelong friendships with many “unselfish weavers who graciously share their weaving expertise of whom I am most grateful,” she said.
Her work is on display at the Chickasaw Cultural Center and ARTesian Gallery & Studios in Sulphur, the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center in Ada, the Chickasaw Nation Clinic in Ardmore and Exhibit C Native Gallery & Gifts in Oklahoma City. In addition to the Artesian Arts Festival, Fish participates in the invitational Art of the Chickasaw Women Exhibit, as well as the Southeastern Art Show and Market during the Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival.
Fish is a member of the Chickasaw Historical Society. She was selected to be included in the “Chickasaw Renaissance” book and chosen to serve on a panel for the 2010 Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation Conference. Fish is also a member of the Oklahoma Basketweavers Guild.
Fish received the prestigious 2016 Chickasaw Nation Silver Feather Award due to her efforts to preserve and revitalize Chickasaw basketry and her invaluable contributions to Chickasaw culture and heritage. She was also a featured artist in “Madonnas of the Prairie, Depictions of Women in the American West” March 2015 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City.
Fish is the daughter of the late Kelsie (Alexander) Morris and the late Colson Miller. Her grandparents, Watt and Minnie (Nelson) Alexander and Colbert and Lula (Frazier) Miller, are all original Dawes enrollees. Fish currently works at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City. Fish lives in Norman with her husband, Willie Fish. They have four children and five grandchildren.
The Chickasaw Nation is hosting the Artesian Arts Festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 25, at the Artesian Plaza in Sulphur, Oklahoma.