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Identifying Sto:lo basketry : exploring different ways of knowing material culture Fortney, Sharon M.

Abstract

Coast Salish coiled basketry has been a much-neglected area of research. Previous investigations into this topic have been primarily concerned with geo-cultural distributions, and discussions pertaining to stylistic attributes. In recent years several scholars have turned their attention to the topic of Salish weavings, but they have focused their efforts quite narrowly on textiles made from wool and other similar fibres to the exclusion of weaving techniques such as basketry which utilise local roots and barks. This thesis will focus exclusively on one type of Salish basketry - coiled basketry. In this thesis I explore different ways of identifying, or "knowing", Coast Salish coiled cedar root basketry. I specifically focus on Sto:lo basketry and identify three ways in which Sto:lo basket makers "know" these objects. First I discuss the Halkomelem terminology and what insights it provides to indigenous classification systems. Secondly, I situate coiled basketry in a broader Coast Salish weaving complex in order to discuss how basketry is influenced by other textile arts. This also enables me to explore how Sto:lo weavers identify a well-made object. In the final section I discuss ownership of designs by individuals and their families. This research draws primarily from interviews conducted with Sto:lo basket makers between May and September 2000 in their communities and at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. It is supplemented by interviews with basket makers from other Salish communities and by the ethnographic literature on this topic.

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