Western Apache

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The Western Apache reservations are in Arizona, east of Phoenix and close to the New Mexico border. They consist of the San Carlos Reservation and the White Mountain Reservation.  The Western Apache were not a single tribe but consisted of five separate and completely independent tribes-the Cibecue, San Carlos, White Mountain, and Northern and Southern Tonto. They are now considered collectively as Western Apache.

Of all Southwestern Indian basketry, that of the Western Apache has long been admired for its craftsmanship and beauty. The Apache were somewhat nomadic and relied on hunting and gathering as a means of subsistence. Basketry was a convenient vessel for gathering nuts, roots and other edible items.

In earlier days, the average Apache home would have a number of baskets around to be used in the day-to-day activities. A water jar (tus) would be used to go to the river for water. It would be brought home and emptied into a larger tus. Trays would be used for storage of foodstuffs or for winnowing. Burden baskets would be used for hauling large quantities of food or even firewood. Baskets were used in girl’s puberty rite ceremonies.