Native American

Storage Trunk

Artist: Unknown
Culture/People: Iroquois Confederacy
Place: Northeastern United States or Canada
Media: Ash splints, pigment
Dims: 13 x 21.5 x 14.5 in. (33 x 54.6 x 36.8 cm)
Date: c. 1875
RTC No: NA0031
Gift of Ralph T. Coe, 2011


This woven trunk has it all! It is plaited. Notice how the lines of the basket are vertical and horizontal as a result of the weaver’s design and intentionality. The coloring of the wefts adds to the trunk’s dimensionality as does the use of thin strips of Ash in between the broad Ash wefts. Also, can you see how the dark wefts are stamped? —probably potato stamped with additional designs.

Plaited and wicker woven baskets are Indigenous to the Northeast United States and into Canada. But old-time—old thinking curators and collectors—unfortunately, believed the baskets were too influenced by Euro-Americans to be considered Native. “Huh”, you say, and I agree! One of the pleasures and strengths of Native arts is the constant range of new materials and ideas that are incorporated keeping the work fresh and purposeful—in a continuous state of evolving. Ted enjoyed collecting this style of baskets and the basket’s beauty was just as important as the maker behind it, no matter from where the basket came or who made it.

Wish to learn more about Ash splint baskets? Please visit with Kelly Church (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Ojibwe) for more information. Kelly has participated in our Side-by-Side Artists Programs by organizing two splint wood basket-making workshops at the Coe Center in 2016.

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