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NRG: Native American Baskets

A selection of Native American baskets on display at Nizhoni Ranch Gallery



Basketry is one of the oldest Native American arts. To compare: the Navajo have been weaving blankets and rugs for about 300 years, but archaeologists have discovered Native American baskets that are about 8,000 years old! Incredibly, many of the Native American baskets sold through are created using the same techniques favored in 2,000 B.C. Thousands of years ago, baskets were favored by Native American hunter-gatherers because they were lightweight, versatile, and eminently portable. Simply put, baskets don't break, even with the strain of constant travel.

Historically, different Native American tribes created different styles of baskets. The Native Americans of the Southwest, including the Navajo, wove tall, coiled baskets. Geometric designs, animal figures, and human figures were woven right into the basketry for a descriptive and detailed look. 

Naturally, Native Americans from different areas of the Americas used different materials to weave their baskets. Northwest tribes used swamp grass or cedar; Southeast tribes used rivercane wicker or pine needles. A Southwest tribe like the Navajo most often used yucca, sumac, or willow to weave their lovely, coiled baskets.