Perhaps the best-known handicraft of the Cherokee are their river cane, white oak, and honeysuckle baskets. Traditionally, these baskets were boiled with black walnut or native bloodroot to produce darker colors, yet just as often they were left in the rich yellow hue of the natural cane.
The warp and weft of the baskets combined with the twill variations determined the multitude of beautiful patterns that ornamented these fibrous vessels. From catching fish to storing grain, Cherokee baskets have been integral to their way of life since prehistoric times. These baskets were crafted in a variety of shapes and sizes, intended to serve many purposes. They were even used in elaborate gambling games where six beans were cut in half to serve as dice and shaken inside baskets.
Fortunately, these unique and distinctive basket-making traditions have been preserved and baskets are available to admire and collect from the Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual, Inc., as well as many craft shops in the town of Cherokee.