Weaving New Worlds, Southeastern Cherokee Women and Their Basketry by Sarah Hill is a very large book, about 400 pages.
“How much is there to write about baskets?” my husband (who is part Cherokee) asked me recently. Here’s what I had to say:
There’s so much more to this book than a study of baskets. There’s a long Prologue that details much about the Cherokee homeland before European contact, especially its flora, how the native people changed and shaped it, cultivated it, and gleaned from it for their daily lives. It’s really an 18th century historical novelist’s dream, if your interests run to frontier or Native American settings.
The rest of the book is broken into sections, or time periods, titled by the main material used for basketry in that period.
“For centuries, baskets have been part of Cherokee ceremony, work, and trade. They have been part of Cherokee life and legend. Made from materials gathered from local landscapes, they evoke the world in which their makers live and move and work. Over a period of more than 250 years, Cherokees developed four major basketry traditions, each based on a different material…” ~ from Weaving New Worlds, Introduction
Rivercane (pre-1838 removal)
White Oak (post-removal, 19th century)
Honeysuckle (turn of the 20th century)
Red Maple (Roosevelt administration to present day)
While all materials have been in continuous use… “changes in basketry [materials] can thus be seen as transformations of culture, landscapes, and consciousness.” ~ from Weaving New Worlds, Introduction
I’ve just begun easing my way into Rivercane, the only section I really need to read for my historical research, but I doubt I can resist reading the whole of this book. It’s one of those that spark story ideas left and right. If you have an interest in the Cherokee people, or perhaps like my husband that’s your distant heritage, you’ll appreciate Weaving New Worlds, by Sarah Hill.
Q 4 U: Can anyone think of a word for research that starts with W?