Native American Baskets

Native Americans have been making baskets for thousands of years into the distant past. The Indian artists use materials native to the areas where they live. The Hopi Indians of Northern Arizona make coiled plaques and baskets with yucca and wicker type baskets made of wild currant and rabbit brush. The Pima Indians from Southern Arizona use willow, squaw weed, skunk week, the root of the tule and devil’s claw. The Tohono O’Odham (formerly known as Papago) Indians of Southern Arizona use Yucca and devils claw to make a coiled basket.

A considerable amount of time and work is put into the making of a basket. The artists must gather and prepare materials. Colors in the past were all natural. The Navajos combined rabbit brush and cedar ashes to obtain a yellow dye or boiled the leaves of sumac to set other dye colors. The Hopis and the Tohono O’Odham use yucca bleached in the sun for a lighter color, or the inner leaves which supply a natural green color. Devil’s claw provides the black color. Many now use aniline dyes to create different colors. Apache baskets are especially beautiful and highly prized. Materials most often used include willow and devil’s claw.

We have seen a decline in basket weaving which has caused basket prices to increase. Recently though, there seems to be renewed hope in a few areas to keep basket-weaving alive.

Hoel’s Indian Shop will continue to offer high quality new and old baskets for sale.

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