The Baskets Keep Talking

Sharlot Hall Museum holds a magnificent collection of more then 400 Native American baskets; most are more than 100 years old. “The Baskets Keep Talking” exhibit relates the Yavapai-Prescott Indian tribe’s history and culture through baskets and the stories they reveal.

Located in the Hartzell Room, an addition on the north end of the main building, this exhibit uses the subject of baskets to introduce the story of the local Native Americans, the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe. Working closely with tribal members, this exhibit was created to give an accurate picture of the Tribe’s history, its present contributions to the local community, and its future as a partner in creating a desirable place to live.

The displayed collection features examples from 25 Arizona tribes and includes an 800-year-old Anasazi basket in excellent condition. The exhibit, however, contains more than baskets. Visitors discover ancient hunting and farming methods, family lifeways, and struggles with Anglo settlers and the military. A realistic diorama of a mother teaching a reluctant daughter the art of basket making is the room’s centerpiece. A spectacular 11-foot wide satellite image graphically depicts the Yavapai tribe’s forced movements throughout Arizona. And wary observers may spot the nine “hidden” critters quietly watching visitors pass through the room.

Pomo Indian Greg Sarris wrote:

“Baskets have stories, songs and genealogies. They have helped us on our travels and told us who we are as a people. They have healed the sick and forecast momentous events. The weaver’ hands move, and the basket takes form so that the story can be known. And the baskets keep talking.”

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