The Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Michigan State University Museum, in collaboration with Native American basketmakers' organizations across the country, will launch a multi-year, multi-faceted celebration of the rich, living Native basket traditions of North America and Hawaii. Through a festival, exhibition, and other related activities, Carriers of Culture: Living Native Basket Traditions will examine the ways in which Native baskets — and their makers — are literally and symbolically "carriers of culture."

Project Goals and Objectives

  • To cultivate a wider appreciation for the work of basketmakers whose work is recognized as of outstanding cultural and artistic significance in their respective communities or traditions
  • To showcase the significant contributions that the emerging associations of Native basketmakers are making to the revitalization of Native basketry
  • To feature the work of basketmakers honored as National Heritage Fellowship Awardees and as awardees of various state and tribal artist recognition programs
  • To raise awareness about the inter-relationship of basketry to other tribal cultural knowledge associated with ceremonies, language, stories, and other practices
  • To strengthen the market value of indigenous handmade art in order to make basketmaking a more economically viable occupation or avocation
  • To raise awareness among non-Natives of not only the vital presence of long-standing and extraordinary artistic expressions but also of the very presence of Native peoples
  • To stimulate increased involvement by Native peoples in the acquisition and maintenance of the skills and knowledge associated with basketry
  • To raise public awareness about the critical, yet fragile inter-relationship of basketryand natural resources, including issues of access to resources and eradication of resources due primarily to human encroachment
  • To raise public awareness of the new, innovative and dynamic work being produced by Native artists on an ongoing basis
  • To energize youth acquisition of indigenous language and cultural knowledge via basketmaking study and practice

[NOTE: These goals were established through an extensive consultation process. For more information, see "About"]