by Sarah H. Hill
7" W x 10" H
In this innovative study, Sarah Hill illuminates the history of Southeastern Cherokee women by examining changes in their basketry. Based in tradition and made from locally gathered materials, baskets evoke the lives and landscapes of their makers. Incorporating written, woven, and spoken records, Hill demonstrates that changes in Cherokee basketry signal important transformations in Cherokee culture. Over the course of three centuries, Cherokees developed four major basketry traditions, each based on a different material - rivercane, white oak, honeysuckle, and maple. Hill traces how the incorporation of each new material occurred in the context of lived experience, ecological processes, social conditions, economic circumstances, and historical eras. She demonstrates that while the inclusion of new materials from the time of the Cherokee removal into the present day testifies to deep levels of social and ecological change, the retention of old materials suggests the persistence of certain values, customs, and concepts in Cherokee life. Drawing on such diverse sources as Cherokee myths, government documents, museum collections, store records, interviews with contemporary Cherokee weavers, and firsthand accounts by travelers, traders, and missionaries, Hill presents Cherokee women as shapers and subjects of change.