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Nipmuc Basket

Nipmuc Basket  About 1840About 1840
Gift of Albert C. Bates, 1950.437.0a,b

Long before European contact, Native Americans in Connecticut, such as the Nipmuc, wove baskets for storing grain, corn, fish, and other items. Beginning in the mid 1700s, as native populations were displaced by European settlers, many Native Americans remaining in the region began selling baskets and other traditional crafts to colonists as a source of income. This rectangular, covered basket is made from woven ash and oak and includes two twig bail handles wrapped with splint. It is decorated with geometric designs painted in vibrant red and indigo blue.

By the late 1800s, most Native American baskets were made primarily for decorative purposes. The art of basket weaving was passed down through generations and was an expression of cultural identity. Today, Native American basket weavers are recognized artists, who often sign their work.

Many Native American artifacts, including a basket, brooms, grain bin, mortar and pestle, tools, and weapons are on permanent exhibit in Making Connecticut at the Connecticut Historical Society.