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

Basket weaving,   pp. 13-16


Page 15

or steal their supplies, and in either case the amount is
scanty and ill-conditioned.
The disadvantages that the Indian labors under are
great, yet the work is by no means poorly done. From the
giant basket structures of the Apaches in the southwest on
to the finest and most daintily woven of the Tulare and
Kern county Indi2ns in the interior of California, all up
through the north and the northwest, the work is perfectly
done. Of course the larger baskets that are intended for
carrying wood, fuel, food, grain and nuts are not so fine as
those for jewels and religious ceremonies. These are woven
closely, in the finest thirty-five strands to the inch, and even
as high as eighty are said to have been obtained.
The decorations are made by introducing different
colored feathers, grasses, fern stems, and staining others
with juices and also by burying the materials in different
colored earths until stained sufficiently. Lately the use of
dyes has detracted from the otherwise beautiful simplicity
of the art. Every design that is introduced is said to pos-
sess a meaning and to give the basket its own separate
individuality. The design in beautiful brown perfectly
matching the image of the rattlesnake represented is one
frequently found, a whirlwind is shown by a scroll, a semi-
circle indicates a rainbow, an obtuse angle the sky, zig-zag
lines the lightning, rude imitations of animals and men are
also found. In finishing a design that is continued around
the basket a space is left at the end, seemingly by accident
yet said to be on purpose; this is called the " exit trail of
life," and to close it would mean dreadful misfortune to
the maker.
Every basket seems, in the mind of the Indian, to have
a sort of life, to be almost a part of the one who creates it;
they can tell their own years afterward, and will embrace
them with tears and demonstrations of deep feeling when
they see them again in the possession of others.
These friends of the Indian suggest the establishment
of schools for training in the work, supported by the
government, with instructors chosen from their own people
-no one else could possibly do that except the Indian-
and these well paid for their services ; the maintenance of
suitable streams and other places for growth of materials,
and the protection of the products of their work from the
greed of dealers and curio seekers. They should have a
suitable means of disposing of their labors.
According to the plan every Indian child would be
compelled to take this or some kindred method of manual
training and from one of their own people. It would be
introduced as carpenter work and "sloyd" is in the public


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