How much do you know about Hanis Coos Basketry?

photo by The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians

Example of a Hanis Coos Basket. Photo by The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians

My best guess, as much as I did before we asked contemporary Hanis Coos artist Sara Siestreem to join the roster for the Byting Willows exhibit. What a big surprise when I opened my email two weeks ago and found a picture of her finished basket for the exhibit; together with a wonderful background story about its meaning!

Excited I tried to find more information about Hanis Coos basketry – not an easy task,  I tell you. A google search resulted in a couple of images on the official tribal website as well as entries on a few blogs with either ethnobotanical background  or cultural focus.

The materials used are spruce root, conifers and bear grass which are all local to Oregon. It seems that most baskets have utilitarian use as storage devices for food, like acorns and berries, or traps to fish lampreys. The decoration consists of  many different designs of mostly geometric nature, some of which can be interpreted as part of a story such as the arrow design.

That about sums everything up I could find. Not much, don’t you think?

Sources: http://ctclusi.org/culture; https://ethnobotanywesternoregon.wordpress.com/category/coos/page/2/; http://jaredjestesnorthwestcoastindians.wordpress.com