Place: Northeast, United States
Media: Brown ash, fabric, commercial buckle and brads
Dims: 5.75 x 4.75 x 4 in. (14.6 x 14.6 x 10 cm).
Date: early 20th C.
This Northeastern Pack Basket reflects both function and play. These types of packs have been made with black ash by many Northeastern tribes for centuries for hunting, fishing, and harvesting, but this piece is made from Oak splint.
The design of this basket, with the wide-mouth opening; supportive, weight-bearing straps; and form that molds to the wearer’s back have become widely appropriated—so much so that they are now widely marketed as Adirondack Pack Baskets by non-Native companies small and large, yet the original power of these Indigenous baskets remains strong as Native basket-makers continue to maintain production and use.
This miniature basket was created by an unknown maker from the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. If you look at NA0016 you will see how far the form has been adapted over the years. This piece contrasts in form and function—providing an opportunity for us to ponder how it was put to use.
RTC No: NA0088
Gift of Ralph T. Coe, 2011
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