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Handmade Objects: Choctaw Basketry
Janie Shumake and Norma Thompson
Janie Shumake and her daughter Norma Thompson are Choctaw basketmakers who live in the Conehatta community in Newton County. They carry on the tradition of making baskets from swamp cane that has been an important part of Choctaw culture for hundreds of years. The cane used in the baskets is gathered from marshy areas nearby. It is then split into four or more strips which are used to weave the baskets. The cane is dyed different colors to create intricate designs on the sides of the baskets. In earlier times the baskets were used in the home for a variety of purposes. Today most of the baskets that Shumake, Thompson and others make are sold to collectors and people who use them for decoration.

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Janie Shumake's daughter Norma Thompson making an egg basket.

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