Splint Basketry Traditions

The Native people of southern New England have always been known for their beautifully decorated baskets. Inside a wigwam in 1643, these baskets were used instead of shelves to store all kinds of food and household supplies (Roger Williams 1973). A European traveling In 1674 described these traditional baskets as "very neat and artificial, with the portraitures of birds, beats, fishes and flowers, upon them in colors" (Gookin 1970). Long before European contact, Native people made baskets from materials including: birchbark, bulrush, cattail, cornhusk, sweetgrass, dogbane, cedarbark.

New England Natives began making baskets out of prepared wood splints in the 1600's. Natives in the Delaware River area may have first learned the preparation of wood splints for baskets from the Swedes (Snow 1980). Some of the earliest known woodsplint baskets were made in the mid-1600's by the Iroquois in what is now western New York.

Painted Splint Covered Storage Baske
1800s Painted Splint Covered Storage Basket in the collections of Old Sturbridge Village

Splint Basket Background & History Weaving Splint Baskets