Basketry

Basketry is the single traditional art for which Choctaws artists are most widely recognized.  Early Choctaw baskets are made of split river cane and palmetto, colored with plant dyes.  A wide variety of intricate forms were made and developed by ancestral Choctaw people (see Choctaw Baskets), many of them were used for food preparation, storage/transportation, or as items of gift and exchange.

The baskets pictures in the following pages represent some of the earliest surviving Choctaw basketry forms.

Fanner Basket

Item's Choctaw Name: Ufko 

Item's English Name:   Fanner Basket

Age:  early 1900s?

Material: Split River Cane

Dimensions:
                    Length = 52.0 cm
                    Width = 41.9 cm
                    Height = 10.2 cm

Origin: Oklahoma

Current Owner:  Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Council House Museum

Location: Tuskahoma, OK

Notes: Baskets such as this, were an essential item for the Choctaw kitchen.  After parched corn was ground in a mortar and pestle, it would be placed in the fanner basket, and then carefully thrown up in the air to remove the chaff.

Sifter Basket

Item's Choctaw Name: Ishshoha

Item's English Name:   Sifter Basket

Age:  early 1900s?

Material: Split River Cane

Dimensions:
     Width (corner to corner) = 26 cm
     Rim diameter = 37.3 cm
     Height = 10.5 cm

Origin: Watson, OK

Current Owner:  Museum of the Red River  #93.21.2

Location: Idabel, OK

Notes: Used for separating out the larger pieces of prushed nuts and corn,  baskets like this were common utensils in the early Choctaw kitchen. 

Trunk Basket

Item's Choctaw Name: Tapushik Pothoma

Item's English Name:  Double-Weave Trunk Basket

Age:  1830-1850

Material: Split river cane, natural dyes

Dimensions:
            Length = 28cm
            Height = 23 cm
            Thickness = ca 15cm

Origin: Choctaw, New Orleans, LA

Notes: This is an exceptional Choctaw double weave trunk basket with a lid.  It has been heavily worn through use.  Its dark and medium-brown dyes are native-made.

Pointed Basket

Item's Choctaw Name: Taposhake chufa

Item's English Name:  Basket

Age:  early 1900s?

Material: River Cane

Dimensions: Height 21cm, Width 16.6cm, Splint width 0.4cm,

Origin: collected in Mississippi in 1950

Current Owner:  National Museum of the American Indian, #215359.000

Location: Smithsonian Cultural Resource Center

Pack Basket

Item's Choctaw Name:  Kishi

Item's English Name:  Basket

Age:  ca. 1900

Material: River cane and tanic acid tanned leather straps

Dimensions:
     Length 56.0cm
     Top Width 66.4cm x 42.cm7 
     Cane splint width 0.6cm

Origin:  St. Tammanay Parish, LA

Current Owner:  National Museum of the American Indian # 018442.000

Location: Smithsonian Cultural Resource Center

Notes: Large pack baskets, such as this one, were used by Choctaw women for transporting many types of large or bulky objects.  These baskets were used to harvest fields, to collect wild food and other resources, to pack a family's belongings for travel, and even to carry the soil for constructing earth mounds.  Most pack baskets, including this one, have a leather tumpline, or strap that goes over the forehead to help stabilize the load.