Join Gilcrease Museum and Cherokee National Treasure Vivian Cottrell Tuesday, February 23rd at 12:00 p.m. via Facebook Live as she demonstrates how Cherokee people gather and process river cane to make flat reed baskets.
This program is sponsored in part by the Cherokee Nation. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
About Vivian Cottrell
"I began to weave baskets when I was 13 years old. My mother, Betty Scraper Garner, taught me to weave Cherokee double-wall baskets. We used commercial reeds and dyes to weave baskets at first. The material was easier for me to handle.
We would sell our baskets to area gifts shops in Tahlequah and the surrounding counties. Most shops would purchase each basket by size and whether the basket had a lid or not. In the 70’s, I was paid $5 to $ 20 for each basket. I tried to weave and sell as many baskets as I could during high school.
Over the following years, from the late 70’s through the mid-90’s, Mom and I would begin weaving honeysuckle and buck brush. We gathered, prepared the runners and gathered the natural dye materials together to weave traditional baskets and stopped using commercial materials. My dad had closed in our garage so that we could weave, display and sell our baskets to tourists and others. We sold our baskets from our home for many years.
I was honored by the Cherokee Nation, as a Living Treasure in Basketry in September 1995. My mother, also honored as a Living Treasure in 1993, was in attendance to see me receive this acknowledgement from our peers. We learned from each other. She and other weavers had encouraged me to develop my own weaving style. When attending National Indian Art Markets, I am honored to represent Cherokee basketry and share knowledge of our weaving style to the general public.
Mom and I would weave together for twenty-five years, until her death in June 1997. I pay much tribute to her for her teachings. We not only shared a common interest, but we also shared a mother/daughter bond. My mother was my mentor.
I have many books about Cherokee basketry. I began researching and reading several books on the well-known basket weavers of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It was my desire to learn the most difficult basket weaving – double wall rivercane basketry. Only a few weavers in Oklahoma can weave rivercane and especially the double wall rivercane baskets. My first attempt of weaving a double wall rivercane basket began eight years ago. My husband and I gather rivercane growing below our home. I hand split and peel the cane. Natural materials such as black walnut, bloodroot, bois d’arc shavings, wild cherries and other berries growing wild, are used to dye peeled rivercane splints, honeysuckle and buck brush runners." -Vivian Garner Cottrell