Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baskets in my Culture

In my jr. high years I went to school in Holy Cross. The district would have workshops or camps to learn more about our Athabascan culture. The surrounding villages would take turns with us every year holding a workshop at our schools called Yukon Innoko River Days. They would have all kinds of different classes based on Athabascan ways. People in the community would volunteer to teach whatever they knew. I attended the willow root basket making. The roots are died a different color and soaked in water. While making the basket you must keep the roots wet at all times, so they will not dry up and break. There is a little poker tool that you use to get the roots through to the other side of the basket. My basket only got about 2 inches wide and long because it's time consuming and I had a few hours a day to work on it. Baskets were very reliable a long time ago to hold food for people in the tribes. They worked very well to feed the young and working men.

At Culture Camp, also called Spirit Camp, they taught us how to live in the woods. The camp lasted for one week. When we got to the camp grounds, we would set up camp and everyone would take turns helping out to cook dinner. We only cooked native foods over the fire. The volunteers of the camp would take us moosehunting and fishing. We also got put in groups and had to make a fire with one match that was wet. I was happy because my group was first, and if we didn't make the fire right but succeeded anyway, they showed us the proper way afterwards. The thing I liked most about the camp is that I made a birch bark basket in that week. We used everything around us. We dug up willow roots, peeled bark, and used berries to die the roots a different color. The only thing we didn't get from nature was the poker to poke holes in the bark. I was very proud of my accomplishment!

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