Hat Box Basket, ca. 1800-1850


This hatbox storage basket is made from ash and decorated with painted and stamped designs. It was made by Indians in southern New England. Similar baskets were made and sold in Maine.

The earliest recorded containers included birchbark baskets and twine woven bags. At some point, Native people began to weave sturdy work baskets of ash for their own use and for sale. By the early 1800s, basketmakers peddled hatboxes, trays, bowls, pack baskets and harvest baskets door-to-door in growing towns like Bangor. With the influx of settlers and industries such as logging, Native people lost control of their lands and self-determination. Basketmaking, woods work and guiding were means to make a living in an increasingly difficult world.

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