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The art of Native American Indian basketry is the ability of a weaver to manipulate various flexible elements such as reeds, osiers, splints, and plant fibers, to create containers and useful or ornamental objects. By definition, baskets are made by hand, and in the Northwestern United states, they’re primarily made by women. Basketry can be divided into two large categories which are sewn basketry or coiling and woven basketry, including the weaving techniques of plaiting, wickerwork, and twining.
The Southwest Hopi, Navajo, Papago, Pima, and Tohono O’odham Indians produce Native American baskets suited to their religious, social, and geographical environment. Over time and with cultural influences, designs, shapes, and functions may have changed. For example, originally, the Pima may have woven a tray or bowl basket for the purpose of carrying or serving food. Then, when the tourists moved in, they began to weave smaller ollas and decorated them for the tourists and collectors to display as fine art. Today, the Southwest Pueblo Indians produce tray baskets for their own personal use as well as for the fine art market. The unique techniques and bold colors still convey the message of the vitality and culture of each individual tribe.