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

Basket weaving,   pp. 13-16


Page 14

in fact, become an Indian. No one can weave the life of
all created things in nature in so strange and unusual man-
ner into the work as he ; no one picture the wild longings
of the spirit for communion with the invisible, as it is
shown in his handiwork; all the soul of the nation of red-
men is embodied in his art of basketry. It preceded pot-
tery and has supplanted it in the appreciation of all the
civilized people of the world.
As they are at present, the supply of baskets is likely
to become less and less, and as the curio-seekers and
wealthy people, with a growing fondness for the unique in
art, are making haste to appropriate the best that can be
now found, the time will soon come when the fine pieces
are all gone. The indefatigable search goes on for all the
finest weaves of baskets, the old heirlooms, with traces of
lineal history of a hundred years hanging upon them, the
dainty jewel baskets with bits of polished shell, wampum
and beads and feathers woven into intricate and gorgeous
patterns. All of these are fast being won from the reluctant
owners. The poor Indian women, with hungry, half-clad
children are not safe from the persistent demands of the self-
seeking dealers, who give them from seven to twenty times
less than the value of the work. If they pay$10 for an article
tothe Indian or half-breed possessor, they will get from
$150 to $200 for it from a wealthy purcli'aser. Lately four
baskets were sold in Los Angeles that netted the dealer
$410, and all went to one purchaser. It is small comfort
for the poor laborer to have his work taken from him at
such ridiculous prices when it is now so valuable to others
and especially so if the time and labor of the manufacture
are taken into consideration.
In the process of gathering the willow sticks, curing
and preparing, tearing the tender slips with the teeth, and
keeping in proper condition for manipulation together with
the successful weaving process and suitable decoration, a
squaw is frequently engaged from six months to two years
in making one basket. Think of selling this for ten dollars
and the retailer getting two hundred! The laborer cannot
but starve on such wages, and there is no wonder that the
art is dying out, except in such tribes as still keep it up,
almost in sworn secrecy from the white, in order to pre-
serve this one tradition of their previous condition.
Supplies, too, are hard to get. The willows from
which most of the baskets are made, in large part are ob-
tained from along the banks of streams, and the owners of
the lands are not willing to let these be taken away, as the
roots keep the bank of the stream from wearing away and
save the land for agriculture. The Indians must either beg


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