Cultural Origins

Although many cultural traditions influence American basketry, its roots are in Native America, Europe, and Africa. While individual groups developed their own forms and iconography the craft has never been static. Basketry has been practiced and passed down within families and communities, and their makers consistently have responded to the regional availability of materials as well as trade and cultural exchange.

In addition to serving a myriad of utilitarian functions, basket making also played a major role in stimulating identity among many cultural groups. For example, The Akimel O’ odham (Pima), like most Native cultures, created functional work such as the Kiaha (burden basket), as well as ceremonial baskets used during the Víkita (Harvest Dance). Irish, Scottish, French, and German settlers in the American Northeast and Appalachia cemented their European roots in the New World through the continued production of willow and oak baskets, while Lowcountry African Americans employed basketry as a means to survive and maintain connections to their cultural history.

“Cultural Origins” baskets: