Learn more about Indian baskets
Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 12, 2009
For anyone interested in American Indian baskets, the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians will host two events that should be on your calendar. We will present a basket conservation workshop at 6:30 p.m. Friday and an Indian Basket Day with basket demonstrations and sales by weavers from the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chitimacha, Koasati, Alabama and Seminole tribes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free to both events.
Many homes in the Miss-Lou have one or more Indian baskets sitting around, usually serving as containers for various items like magazines or letters. Some houses may even have large hamper baskets.
In my conversations with basket-owners, they often have stories about how a family member once purchased a basket from itinerant Indians many years ago. People are invited to bring their baskets to the basket conservation workshop in the museum auditorium for identification, evaluation and advice on preservation.
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Cindy Gardner, director of collections, Museum Division of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and Tommie Rodgers, registrar, Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, will assist basket owners with information on how baskets should be stored and cared for in order to maintain their beauty and value. Both the Museum of Mississippi History and the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art maintain large collections of American Indian baskets.
Indian Basket Day will feature basket weavers from the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chitimacha, Koasati, Alabama and Seminole tribes, who will demonstrate and sell both split cane and pine needle baskets. These crafts people come from Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi. Refreshments will be available, including Choctaw fry bread and tacos.
The Basket Conservation Workshop and Indian Basket Day are part of a Southeastern Indian Basket Symposium co-sponsored by the National Park Service, Northwestern Louisiana State University, and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The symposium is aimed at promoting and preserving the basket weaving traditions among the Southeastern tribes. The first symposium of this kind took place in 2002 at Natchitoches, La., when many of these basket weavers gathered together for the first time. Thanks to a grant from the National Park Service through the Cane River Creole National Historical Park at Natchitoches, the follow-up symposium is being held here in Natchez.
While they are at the Grand Village, the basket weavers will discuss ways to market their work with Janice Sago, manager of the Grand Village Museum Shop, Dr. Kimball Marshall, professor of marketing at Alcorn State University, and Deborah Cowart, Eastern National Retail Unit Manager at the Natchez National Historical Park. Others who will be meeting with the basket makers are Dr. Rachel Jolley, Department of Bio Sciences at Mississippi State University, Dustin Fuqua, museum technician at Cane River Creole National Historical Park, and Dr. Hiram “Pete” Gregory, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Northwestern Louisiana State University.
For more information about the Basket Conservation Workshop and Indian Basket Day, call 601-446-6502.
The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians is located at 400 Jefferson Davis Blvd., one-half mile east of U.S. 61 South near Natchez Community Hospital.
Jim Barnett is the director of the Division of Historic Properties at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.