“If It’s Not a Tlingit Basket, Then What is It?”: Toward The Definition of an Alutiiq Twined Spruce Root Basket Type

Molly Lee


In this article I describe a twined spruce root basket type formerly attributed to the Tlingit Indians but now accepted as made by the Alutiiq (Pacific Eskimo or Chugach Eskimo) populations of Prince William Sound and Kodiak Island, although a few were also collected in Sitka because of the frequent relocation of Alutiiqs during the Russian occupation of Alaska. The research was carried out in several European museums having early Alaskan collections. For the research, I compared documented Tlingit baskets with those collected from the Alutiiqs as early as the 1778 voyage of Capt. James Cook and as late as the 1950s. The two have been found to differ in several ways, most notably in design motifs and their placement on the baskets. The research owes much to ethnographic data from Frederica de Laguna’s long-term research in Prince William Sound.

  • Molly Lee, University of Alaska Museum, P.O. Box 6860 Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6960

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