About this object

History of use

Basketry filled a vital need as containers for storage, domestic use and transportation of goods. Some had multiple uses; others were made for specific functions. After European contact, used for trade and sale items. Forms have been altered to meet European tastes. Basketry making was and is a women's art.


Fort Nass was built at the mouth of the Nass River 1831. It was soon renamed Fort Simpson after Captain Aemilius Simpson who chose the site and died four months after its establishment. In 1834 the fort was moved and reestablished at the Tsimshian summer village of Lax Kw’alaams, twenty miles north of Prince Rupert. This is an ancient camping spot of the Gispaxlo'ots tribe. By 1857, 2300 natives lived at the site, primarily Tsimshian members of the nine tribes: Gispaxloats, Gitnaxangiik, Gitsiis, Gitnadoiks, Gitandoh, Gilutzau, Gitwilgiots, Gitzaxlaal and Gitlan. The first HBC factor at the new Fort Simpson was Dr. John Frederick Kennedy, who married the daughter of the Gispaxloats Chief Legaic as part of the diplomacy which established the fort on Gispaxlo'ots territory. Kennedy served at Fort Simpson until 1856.
In 1880 the community was renamed Port Simpson. The Tsimshian community refers to the community as Lax Kw’alaams.
The Tsimshian band council of Port Simpson requested in 1985 that its community name be changed to Lax Kw'alaams. Meaning "place of wild roses" in Tsimshian. The change was officially made in July 1986, based on agreement by the names committee members for British Columbia and the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Canada Post also renamed its post office.

Cultural context

domestic storage; cooking; transport

Specific techniques

Basket weave is diagonal plaiting with overlay decoration. Rim consists of the end of alternating warp elements against a reinforcing bundle of bark and is secured by wrapping along the top edge.

Physical description

Oval cedar bark basket with a square bottom and dark brown diagonal overlay decoration. Decoration consists of four pair of two parallel lines each of dyed cedar bark. Decoration starts near the rim and turns at the corner of base and proceeds up towards the opposite rim, resulting in the decoration covering all sides of basket. Dyed bark is seen every other stitch. String handles consist of two bundles of three pieces of string. The two bundles run parallel to each other, joined together at their top edges by another bundle of two or three pieces of string 6 cm. long. String runs inside the basket for 2.7 cm. on one side, and 4 cm. on the other. String does not run on the underside of the basket.