A small birch bark basket

Willow rim and hide carrying strap. Three beads are sewn onto the rim; two red beads and one blue. The base of the basket is rectangular and convex shaped.

Birch bark baskets usually functioned as storage containers or used by women and children to gather berries for their families. They were general purpose baskets that could be used for a myriad of uses including gathering shellfish, roots, or berries, or storing feathers, tobacco, trinkets, or spoons.

In contrast to the woven root baskets, bark baskets were less time consuming to make. They required skill however a basket could be completed in hours opposed to days. The birch had to be peeled from the tree, thick enough to make strong basket walls but thin enough to ply. The bark would then be folded on two sides to create the bottom and walls of the container. The rim of the basket is stitched with a willow coil stitch, which adds stability and a smooth decorative edge. The maker of this basket embellished the rim with three beads, and created a difference in tonality of the outer casing by stripping the external silver layer of bark near the rim to reveal the reddish brown of the wood.


MacBride Museum of Yukon History, Whitehorse

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