Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 

Basket

chivtux^ “grass basket”
Language: Unangam Tunuu (Attuan dialect)

When you pick it you say a little prayer, thanking the grass for letting us have some of it, and that we won’t abuse it…It’s easier to weave if it is moist. If it’s not so moist it breaks all the time. You have to do that as you go along. We usually keep a little glass of water to dip our fingers in.

—Maria Turnpaugh, 2003

Grass storage baskets were traditionally made to hold dried fish, roots, and meat; other types were for gathering beach foods and plants. Small, round, lidded baskets like this one were invented in the nineteenth century and made primarily for sale. Designs were added using dyed grass, split spruce root, silk embroidery thread, and yarn. Grass for baskets is gathered in the summer on coastal hillsides; the weaver bundles, ages, sorts, dries, and splits the stems to prepare them. At least eight weaving patterns are historically known.

Culture: Unangax (Aleut)
Region: Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Village: Attu
Object Category: Baskets, bags, boxes
Dimensions: Length 10.5cm
Accession Date: 1976 (collected pre-1942)
Source: Capt. Howard B. Hutchinson (collector, donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E417767