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Baskets - Basketmaking in some fashion was practiced by almost every Indian tribe in the United States.  The early Mound Dwellers were basketmakers, as is shown from impressions found in mound excavations.

Indians were familiar with all the materials suitable for making baskets such as roots, grasses, barks, and other fibers.  They knew when to gather the materials, preserve them, and prepare them for making their baskets.

There were two general types of baskets - woven and coiled.  In the woven types there was a frame, or warp, consisting of a coarser material onto which was woven the weft, or woof, of finer fibers which went crosswise.  In the coiled type baskets, coils of the material were built up in spiral fashion.

Strange as it may seem, baskets were much used for cooking in olden times.  When lined with pitch they became watertight, and some believed the art of pottery grew out of baskets lined with clay.  When the clay hardened from the heat, the Indian found this clay vessel could be used alone.  From California to Alaska Indian women wove baskets which were watertight.  Cooking in such baskets was done by the stone-boiling method, or by dropping hot stones into the liquid contained by the basket.

The Indians of the Great lakes region used birch-bark containers in place of baskets.  Willow and cane were utilized in the South, while farther north splint wood, or flat pieces of wood, were woven into baskets.  The Nez Percè made soft bags which were woven after the fashion of baskets.  The Tlingit Indians made baskets or spruce roots.  Apache baskets are among the finest.

Indians became experts in decorating their baskets.  They took their designs from nature.  Basketwork also was employed in making fences, fish weirs, houses, trays, mats, shields, and cradles, as well as many other things.

Related Information within this Site
[ Bags and Pouches ][ Bark Craft ][ Bigiu ][ Dishes ]
[ Fishing ][ Mound Builders ][ Pottery ][ Stone Boiling ]