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Baskets Past and Present

Tlingit baskets today

baskets

After the Tlingit came in contact with Europeans and other non-indigenous peoples, basket-weaving became important not just for use within Tlingit society, but as items for trade or sale. As such, baskets for trading (and to sell to tourists) were made that featured greater ornamentation but were not as durable as more traditional baskets. Also, basket weavers experimented with less traditional designs such as covered bottles, baby boots, and teapots (all of which were sold to tourists and collectors). During the Great Depression, however, mainstream interest in Tlingit basketry predictably declined and the art was in danger of dying out.

Since the 1970s, however, there has been a renewed interest in native basketweaving, and Tlingit elders previously hesitant to spread their art to non-Tlingit began to teach others how to weave in the traditional way. Tlingit baskets, as well as baskets from other tribes, continue to be made, collected, and displayed with pride and respect all over the world.

(Image courtesy of Teri Rofkar)

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