Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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q’iyh tth’ok “birchbark basket”
Language: Deg Xinag

It’s good to sew birch bark when the sun is shining. Good to dig roots when it’s raining. The roots slide right out then.

—Sarah Malcolm, from “Skins, Trees, Quills, and Beads,” 1984

This Deg Hit’an basket is made of folded birch bark with a double rim of bentwood hoops; it is stitched with split red willow roots. In the past, birch baskets large and small were made to hold water and store foods such as berries, roots, fish, meat, oil, and bear grease. Soups and stews were cooked in them by adding hot stones or, if they were made of thick bark, by hanging the basket directly over a fire. Although no longer everyday necessities, beautiful baskets are still created by Athabascan artists.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Yukon River (lower) Alaska
Object Category: Baskets, bags, boxes
Dimensions: Length 31cm
Accession Date: 1927
Source: Rev. John W. Chapman (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E339747