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The papoose
Vol. I. No. 2. (January, 1903)

Basket weaving,   pp. 13-16


Page 13

Basket Weaving
ASKET weaving, an art in which the In-
.       dians of the great Southwest have always
excelled but which, for various reasons,
B   '    has been somewhat neglected among
them of late years, is to be fostered
and encouraged, if certain of the real
friends of the redmen can carry out
their plans. One important reason why
these men would encourage the art of basket weaving is
that it will afford means of livelihood for the Indians in
the transition period from savagery to civilization. One
of the sinoere friends of the red man is George Bird Grin-
nell, author of "The Indians of To-day." Mr. Grinnell
says the Indians are all wrestling with problems of which
they know little or nothing, and are perplexed and dis-
couraged. He says, furthermore: "It is not enough to
furnish a tribe of Indians subsistence, an agent to look
after them and a few white men employes to assist them.
Unless they have more than that, no tribe will ever make
much progress toward self-support.
Something to do, and that something to be what he likes
to do, either because it brings him a plentiful remuneration
or a complete satisfaction in the process of manufacture,
or both; this is the solution to the question. Something
that he can do well, and, if possible, that no one else can
do quite so well as he can-these are the stimuli that must
work out his redemption. Nothing seems to furnish the
requirements for stirring up such an ambition so well
for the greater part of the semi-active and unemployed
portions of the Indian population in almost every tribe and
section as basketry.
In his "Types of American Basketry" Otis T. Mason,
curator of the division of ethnology in the United States
National Museum says: " At last, after an almost fatal
neglect, patrons of savage American fine art are beginning
to appreciate Indian basket work. It is the only aborig-
inal art that has not been counterfeited; at the same time
it is more ideal than pottery, since form, technique and
intricate patterns must all be fixed in the imagination before
the maker takes the first step."
It is for this reason that basketry seems to be the most
desirable of all methods for development of the life incen-
tive in the Indian ; it cannot be counterfeited, for there are
no two baskets alike, each represents the maker in his
ideality and can no more be imitated than a white man can,


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