WHAT THE BASKET MEANS TO THE INDIAN : Page 167
need for shelter, clothing, hats, cradles, fish and snaring nets, mats and baskets; and so thoroughly
did they master the intricacies of weaving, that not a single new stitch has been added to the sum of primitive knowledge by the most skilled modern craftsmen. At the point where primitive women left off, civilized men, at a comparatively recent date, were able to take the work from their hands, apply machinery to it and convert the manufacture of textiles into one of the great staples of commerce for the world.
Through the same phases of development all races of mankind must pass, ethnology teaches us, and today our Indian woman is where Egyptian, Roman, Teuton, Frank and Briton women once were before their respective races attained civilization and culture. Like the Indian weaver in the West today, where civilization has not yet effaced her, these women of the ancient world were once the weavers for their people; references to their spinning, weaving, and basketry abound in early literatures, and examples of their similar work, still extant in museums, testify to the sisterhood of the human race. Into all these primitive home-made articles, beauty slowly found greater and greater expression in form, color and design; and it was often wrought out through materials so crude and difficult to manipulate as to make one wonder that effort to transform them was even attempted.