NORTH FORK – The community of North Fork and the Citizens of the Mono Tribe are saddened by the passing of Avis Punkin, North Fork Rancheria Tribal Coucil Treasurer and life-long resident.
Funeral services will be Friday, Nov 16, at 10 a.m, at Jay’s Chapel in Madera. At approximately 1:30 p.m. there will be graveside services at the North Fork cemetery, followed by a gathering at the North Fork Town Hall.
Avis was elected to the North Fork Rancheria Tribal Council in 2008 where she served as Tribal Treasurer. Prior to her election, Avis served on the Tribe’s Elections and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families boards.As an alternate on the Tribe’s housing board, Avis was particularly proud of the outstanding housing created by the tribal government in North Fork through U.S. HUD grants.
Avis grew up in the town of North Fork, where she attended the nearby North Fork grammar school. She lived in North Fork on and off for nearly 70 years, and was a fluent speaker of the Mono language.
Avis has been married to Herb Punkin, a former tribal council member of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, for nearly 50 years, demonstrating the close ties of kinship between the two tribes.
Avis has carried on the rich Mono tradition of basket weaving. She volunteered at the renowned Sierra Mono Museum in North Fork, and belonged to the Basket Weaver’s Association in California. She was an expert basket maker who gathered all her own materials.
Tom Wheeler, who owns several of Avis’s baskets, acknowledged her at a Town Hall Meeting in Oakhurst on Thursday.
“Avis was a good friend of mine for many years,” said Tom. “Her husband Herb and I competed every year at the Logger’s Jamboree, and still do. She was a great, great lady, and an amazing basket weaver.”
To see some of Avis’s work, visit http://www.actaonline.org/content/avis-punkin