Dene Spruce Root Basketry: Revival of a Tradition

Paperback / softback
Baskets made from coiled spruce roots once were commonplace items in many Dene homes. The craft died out, however, in the 19th century, as copper kettles became available through trade with Europeans. By the end of the 20th century, all that remained to attest to this ancient tradition were a few baskets in museum collections. In 1999, Suzan Marie, a Dene with a passion for the traditional arts of her people, saw a photograph of one of these baskets and initiated a project to reintroduce the lost art of spruce root basketry to small Dene communities.

This richly illustrated book tells the story of this modern revival of a traditional skill, and of the museum collections that were essential to the process. Photographs of baskets collected in the 19th century and of those made recently are enhanced by a detailed description of the process involved in making a basket, from harvesting spruce roots to coiling technique. It will be a resource for anyone interested in Dene culture and heritage and will also serve as a practical guide to artisans wishing to make a Dene spruce root basket.