Woodlands Indian Art in the Maryhill Museum (Photo Diary)

The Eastern Woodlands refers to the vast area in North America which is basically east of the Mississippi River. Anthropologists generally divide this area into two major culture areas: the Northeastern Woodlands and the Southeastern Woodlands.

 photo P1090657_zpsboc6sgtb.jpg The shaded area on the map shown above shows the Woodlands culture area.

The Maryhill Museum of Art near Goldendale, Washington, has a display of Woodland American Indian art. According to the Museum display:

“Woodlands art includes basketry, leatherwork, porcupine quillwork, beadwork, and woodcarving. Beadwork and quillwork curvilinear floral patterns of Euro-American origin have come to dominate the art. Plaited baskets of various styles were common in the south and northeast.”


American Indian basketry in the Atlantic Northeast was made from a variety of materials using several different weaves. A twine weave was used in creating wickerwork, a fairly rigid form. In his book Indian New England Before the Mayflower, Howard Russell reports:

“They plaited small baskets which were hung from the waist to hold seeds for planting or to carry a lunch when they went fishing; from wild hemp they wove large baskets that would hold maize or bans brought in from the field; and many a useful size between.”

The Indian people of southern New England wove bags from hemp which could hold up to six bushels of corn. They also made storage boxes from folded bark which would hold food, clothing, and even water. Anthropologist Kathleen Bragdon, in her book Native People of Southern New England, 1500-1650, reports:

“Some of these were decorated with incised and painted designs, and were reportedly both sturdy and long-lasting.”

Southeastern Woodlands baskets were, and sometimes still are, made by plaiting swamp cane. In her chapter in Dimensions of Native America: The Contact Zone, Diane Clark reports:

“The similarity of techniques and designs among these groups suggests that information and skills were widely traded.”

Traditionally, baskets were made by the women and this was an important economic contribution to the family.

 photo P1090660_zpsec4niep8.jpg  photo P1090661_zpswqby8ioe.jpg  photo P1090662_zps4ilyywg3.jpg  photo P1090664_zpset0lqnzb.jpg  photo P1090665_zpsnjo7lrir.jpg  photo P1090666_zpsupoawzt2.jpg  photo P1090669_zpss85mu3yn.jpg  photo P1090667_zps8zalr3z6.jpg Shown above is a Schagticoke storage basket.  photo P1090671_zpsc84yfwxv.jpg Shown above is a Paugussett storage basket. This basket, which was made about 1800, has been attributed to Molly Hatchett, a well-known basket maker.  photo P1090673_zpsoth1x9zt.jpg Shown above is a New England splint basket. The wood splints—usually black ash and hickory—were made by pounding a log until it separated into layers along the growth rings.


 photo P1090675_zpsg5kpz84i.jpg Shown above is an example of quillwork. This small birch bark box has been decorated with porcupine quills.

Carl Waldman, in his book The Dictionary of Native American Terminology, writes:

“Quills were softened in water or the mouth; flattened by drawing them through the teeth or with a special rock or bone tool called a quill flattener; colored with dyes; and then applied as a form of appliqué on various materials, especially animal skins.”


 photo P1090677_zpsq34fasbn.jpg Shown above is a pair of Ojibwa moccasins.  photo P1090679_zpsfbjqjwfd.jpg Shown above is an Ojibwa bandolier bag.  photo P1090680_zpscqrq6yjp.jpg Shown above is an Ojibwa bag.  photo P1090683_zpsvbgk6a1c.jpg Shown above is an Ojibwa man’s shirt.

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