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Tsawwassen Basket

Curated Submission
Thompson River, British Columbia
Early 1900s
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
19 x 43
Materials & techniques
Cedar, cherry bark; Weaving, coiling
Delta Museum and Archives Society DE1968.30
Made in the Tsawwassen First Nation tradition, this basket displays a skillful combination of weaving and coiling of local cedar fibres to create an ingenious cooking tool. When dry, the basket is incapable of retaining water. But after being soaked in warm water, the tightly woven base and coiled sides of the cedar basket expand, creating a watertight seal. The basket can then be filled with water, and then rocks, heated by fire, are submerged in the water; a wide variety of ingredients can then be cooked in the basket. This highly adaptable basket and the skills associated with its creation were essential to everyday life among Tsawwassen communities.
This basket makes use of an imbricated right-facing swastika design using cherry bark. Distinctive basket designs distinguished Tsawwassen family groups, who used them to indicate group identity and cohesion. “Ownership” of community designs and tales continues to play a role in some west coast First Nations communities, and using a symbol one is not associated with, or unaware of the significance of, is considered disrespectful. The swastika is an ancient symbol used by countless human civilizations to associate good luck, faith, and other positive attributes. This basket construction predates the tragic co-opting of the swastika symbol in the 20th century. 
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