Tunica-Biloxi’s 4th Annual Intertribal Basketry Summit to celebrate tribe’s ancient art, teach cultural traditions

Photo from 2018 Tunica-Biloxi Basketry Summit
Photo from 2018 Tunica-Biloxi Basketry Summit(KALB)
Published: Oct. 14, 2019 at 3:21 PM CDT
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The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana’s Language and Culture Revitalization Program (LCRP) will host its 4th Annual Intertribal Basketry Summit on Saturday, Oct. 26 in the ballrooms of Paragon Casino Resort (711 Paragon Place, Marksville, LA 71351) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The event aims to educate the community and younger generations on the history and culture of the Tribe through interactive and live demonstrations showcasing the unique designs the tribes are known for and to keep the ancient art alive. Tunica-Biloxi Tribal members, as well as weavers from regional American Indian communities, will demonstrate southeast basket traditions using long leaf pine needle, river cane and palmetto. The Summit will be an informal forum, allowing weavers to talk about their own technique and elements of their culture represented in the craft.

“We’re excited to have members of the community participate in this event, which serves as an outlet for cultural expression and a celebration of the ancient art of basket weaving,” said John Barbry, Director of the Language and Culture Revitalization Program within the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. “By inviting the public to attend, we hope to give them a better understanding of Native American culture, heritage and the art of basketry. It is our hope that these traditions will live on for generations to come.”

New to the Summit, organizers have now set-up a gathering and harvesting component to the event to more authentically practice the art of basketry as Tunica-Biloxi ancestors did. On Thursday, Tribal members will harvest pine needle, cane and other materials which they will then prepare on Friday. Just as Tribal ancestors did, Tunica-Biloxi members will strip the cane, dye the pine needle and dry out materials to be used for weaving. This component of the event is only for Tribal members.

Basketry is an enduring and distinguishing indigenous art form. For years, many Tunica and Biloxi weavers made baskets from local plants, such as dyed river cane, and sold the baskets, or lƆhka (in Tunica), for income. Each element of the weave and design are steeped in the history and heritage of the Tribe. The Annual Basketry Summit is just one of the many ways that the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe works to preserve its culture. All are welcome to attend, including beginners and observers.

For participants who would like to learn pine needle basketry, LCRP staff will assist them in getting a basket started. Materials for these learners will be provided. A registration fee of $20 is required and lunch will be served. Registration space is limited. Participants must register in advance by contacting Jessica Barbry at jabarbry@tunica.org or (318) 240-6469.

Copyright 2019 Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. All rights reserved.

 About the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana

The Tunica-Biloxi people first appeared in the Mississippi Valley. In the late 1700s, they settled near Marksville, where they were skilled traders and entrepreneurs. Today, the Tribe has more than 1,200 members throughout the United States, primarily in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois.