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WHAT THE BASKET MEANS TO THE INDIAN : Page 175


ALASKAN WALLETS, CARRYING BASKETS, TREASURE BASKETS, PLATES AND ALEUTIAN

Figure 7. ALASKAN WALLETS, CARRYING BASKETS, TREASURE BASKETS, PLATES AND ALEUTIAN

(Courtesy of The American Museum of Natural History, New York)

and other grains on her return from nature's market in the woods and fields.

Every Indian woman is her own miller. Going to a favorite rock, hollowed on its upper surface by much grinding, she places upon it a bowl-shaped but bottomless basket to confine the portion of grain being ground, as well as to prevent the wind from blowing away her meal. Through the hole in the bottom of the basket she works her stone pestle diligently until all the grain is ground fine. Even a prosaic basket like this one does not lack its appropriate, poetic symbols. A wicker winnower, to separate the grain from the chaff, is usually shaped like a large scallop shell, suggesting its probable derivation before the Indians were driven backward from the coast into the interior. A basket through which to sift the finer flour is a necessary utensil in every well-regulated Indian household. Today Chinese merchants still sift tea through basket trays.

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