Weaving New Worlds: Southeastern Cherokee Women and Their Basketry

Overview

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...
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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Far more than a survey of Eastern Cherokee women basketmakers, this is an in-depth study of tribal women's history, the ecological and social obstacles facing weavers and other artisans, and the pressures of societymainly tourismon their craft. Hill, an independent scholar with a doctorate in American studies, has done a staggering amount of research to produce possibly the definitive historical study of Cherokee women and their basketry. Indeed, the baskets often take second place to the powerful quotesrepresenting all periods from the time of white contact to the presentespecially about the strength it took to remain hidden in the mountains on their own land when most of the tribe was removed to Oklahoma. But the baskets are the attraction here: a variety of materials (primarily cane, oak, honeysuckle, and maple) are used through the centuries in a variety and quality that remains amazing. More recently, ornamentation and novelty have replaced utility, but the baskets still have the tautness and beauty of the old forms, and the same designs persist. For more scholarly Native American collections.Gay Neale, Southside Virginia Community Coll. Lib., Alberta
From the Publisher
Hill's metaphorical examination of women's roles through the various changes reflected in their basketry is masterful.

National Women's Studies Association Journal

[A]n illuminating picture of the lives of southeastern Cherokee women.

Journal of Appalachian Studies

[S]hould be read by anyone with an interest in ethnohistory, Southern history, women's studies, or material culture.

American Historical Review

Fresh and intriguing.

Journal of Southern History

Destined to become a classic reference text to which future scholars of Native American material culture will always return.

Atlanta History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807823453
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/1997
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 7.33 (w) x 10.35 (h) x 1.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah H. Hill is an independent scholar who lives in Atlanta. A native of Georgia, she received her Ph.D. in American studies from Emory University.
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