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Journey Through Secwepemculew - Art and Expression

Learn about Secwepemculew

Map of Secwepemculew


This Map contains many interesting points throughout the Secwepemc Territory but is not all inclusive. It notes several landmarks and places that are important to the Shuswap People.

birch bark basket, gathering berries


Baskets of all kinds served many important uses in traditional Secwepemc society. Baskets were used for food storage and gathering, cooking, and for general storage. Although baskets mainly served practically purposes they were always well-crafted and held aesthetic appeal. Decorative elements such as alternating colours woven into a pattern, cherry bark adornment, and other artistic touches created useful yet beautiful tools for all to use.
Cedar Root Basket circa

The Secwepemc made baskets from a variety of plant materials. Cedar root baskets and birchbark baskets were the most commonly used. Baskets made from cedar root were valued for cooking because they could be woven so tight so that they could hold water. Hot stones would be placed inside them to cook food. Birch bark was used to create a wide range of baskets. Two of the main uses included, baskets for gathering food as well as baskets for carrying infants.
Other materials used for basket making included spruce root and pine needle.


Ethel Billy Creates a Cedar Root Basket

(Please note that due to the size of the photographs used it may take some time to load)

Cedar Root Basket
cedar basket slide show

Ethel Billy Finding the right root

Ethel Billy chooses the right root to begin her basket.

Ethel Billy stripping roots

Ethel strips the roots she uses before she begins to work.

Ethel Billy twists the roots together

The roots must be twisted together.

Ethel begins to make the basket form.

Ethel Billy begins to create the basket form.

A finished basket.

A finished basket.





Cedar Root Baskets

The Secwepemc used coiled baskets made from split cedar roots or spruce roots.
Cedar roots were gathered year round and split and stored for future basket making. As coiled baskets were time consuming to make, the winter months provided the ideal time to work on them.
Cedar roots are usually gathered in areas where there is sandy soil or near riverbanks or creekbeds where there are roots that are more pliable. The roots are brought home to split so that they can be worked into coils. Often a basket weaver would adorn their basket with other coloured bark such as cherry bark. With the different colours the weaver could design patterns and designs into the basket.

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Candian Heritage Signature, This project was made possible with the support of the department of Canadian Heritage through Canadian Culture Online