Monday, November 29, 2010


Charles Miles. (1963). Indian and Eskimo Artifacts of North America. Retrieved November 23, 2010.

Native Americans enjoyed making their tools and things. Now we call what they made an art. It is art and the Tlingit people and all Native Americans enjoyed making and using it. Basketry is a Tlingit women’s form of art and a way to express herself through the basket. She would add anything from color, feathers, beads, and a design to tell a story or to stand for something that meant something special to her. Tlingit’s loved used bright colors.  This was done by dying the root before weaving the basket. Sometimes, but very rarely, the women would even paint on a design. A fish basket could mean that it was salmon season when the basket was made, the salmon where going up stream.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The meanings

Every basket, along with the symbols or design on the basket, has a meaning. The meaning might be apparent or maybe the weaver is the only one that knows the meaning to the design. The designs may have been something they saw or it could have been in the weaver imagination. For example, the weaver of the basket to the right might have lived by the mountains or just saw the mountains for the first time. There are many possibilities on why the design looks like there are mountains on the basket but there is most likely a story behind the design.

Who is the weaver?

Tlingit women did not just make a basket to make a basket. They did need the baskets to use, but you can identify a person from their basket(s). A good weaver could look at a basket and tell you what region it is from or tell you if they have seen a basket from the same weaver by the design and/or the weaving or the basket. I do not know how they can tell but it is from the years and years of practice and the passing down of information from generation to generation.  No two baskets are the same.

These three baskets were made in Hoonah, Alaska. To me they don’t look similar but a good weaver could tell you what region they are from.

Friday, November 19, 2010

More About Teri Rofkar's Web Site!

Teri Rofkar. (2007). Alaska Native Basketry and Weaving. Retrieved November 16, 2010. from 
Teri Rofkar's web site has all kinds of information on it! It has some history of her own life, like where she is from, where is grew up and lives now, and many more things about her! There is a lot on her Tlingit spruce-root basketry and what kind of designs she weaves. There is also a section of weaving Ceremonial Raven Robes, which I did not know she did. There is a list of places where she is exhibiting her work. You can also order and buy her work from her on the site. It’s a really good site to get a simple background on her and the weaving of Tlingit baskets.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teri Rofkar

Here is some morre information about Teri Rofkar. She is from Sitka, Alaska and her Tlingit name is Chas’koowu Tla’a. She weaves using traditional Tlingit styles that were passed down to her by her mother, grandmother and other elders. She does weave for special occasions and for anybody that wants to buy a basket from her. She has her own internet site full of information on Tlingit baskets, on herself, and some of the history of Tlingit baskets. You can also contact her through her web site or even order a basket from her.  


In this video the famous Tlingit weaver Teri Rofkar shows some Tlingit spruce-root baskets and describes the different weaving used.  She also talks about the dying of the spruce-root to get the colors. She even tells a story about one of the baskets in this video. She talks about towns or villages that don’t exist anymore but were very well known for basket weaving. This video is loaded with all kinds of information on Tlingit spruce-root baskets!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Selling baskets

This is a picture of Tlingit women selling spruce-root baskets. They are on Douglas Island by the Treadwell gold mines. Tlingit women would make the baskets in all different shapes and sizes.  They were made for many different things or to represent different things. Each woman had her own style and skill when it came to weaving. It paid off to have this skill because when the Europeans came to Alaska the women would sell or trade their baskets to the Europeans or settlers.

Wyckoff, L. (2001). Woven Worlds, pp 112. Retrieved November 12, 2010.

How a spruce-root basket is made

In the right season, the women would go into the forest and gather spruce-roots. Once they were all gathered, the women would make a fire. The fire was used to heat up the root, so that it was easier to take off the bark. Then they would take off the outer bark. The inner-root would be the only part being weaved to make the basket. Women would also dye some of the root to make the basket colorful or to tell a story. The women would sit among each other while they weaved. They would talk and tell stories to one another. It sounds like a very easy process, but the hours put into gathering and weaving a basket is more than you probably think.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tlingit people...

The Tlingit are native people that live in the Northwest coastline or Southeast Alaska. The Tlingit people have their own language and have lived in Southeast Alaska for thousands of years. They live in their complex surroundings by hunting, collecting berries, and fishing.  They make their tools and clothing out of what they catch or can get from the land.