Baskets Full of Stories

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Jump to: navigation, search - Vi Hilbert generously donated a collection of traditional cedar root baskets to IslandWood in 2006. Her nephew, Johnny Moses, shared the stories and the songs of the baskets. Vi welcomes people to touch and hold these baskets at IslandWood to fully experience their teachings.

Lesson Summary

Students will explore baskets through perspective storytelling. They will write a story from the perspective of one of the baskets. From when it was created to what it was used for. Students will learn about how natural materials are used by Native Americans in artwork. See basket information binder in prep room on how to handle baskets and more information.


Students will:

  • Learn about how natural materials are used by Native Americans in artwork.
  • Learn about perspective and the different ways people connect to place through practicing perspective storytelling.


Formative Assessment Indicated:

Discuss with students other cultural items that have a story from when the materials were gathered then made into something. Again, The Tree that Came Home, can be an example if the students have read it. Themes from the Port Blakely Harbor day can be revisited. How do people affect place and places affect people? How do Native American’s views of nature differ from other cultures? How are they similar? What are other ways Native American’s use natural materials?


Age group: 4th-6th Venue/s: Great Hall

Materials: Baskets, Field Journal, Pencils, Info Binder from prep room.

Time: 1 hour

Set up: Get key to baskets from front desk. Have students wash hands prior to entering the Great Hall. Students should not be wearing wet clothing.


Introduce perspective story telling. Ask for ideas on the definition of the word perspective.

Students will write a story from the perspective of the basket. Ask students if they have items in their families that have been passed on from generation to generation or special items that were made by someone they know.

Ask the students to consider the following:

  • What plant material was used?
  • What was going on during the weaving process?
  • What was the basket used for?
  • What does the basket’s song sound like?
  • Think about the basket being passed through generations.

If students have read the story of The Tree that Came Home tell them that story is an example of a perspective story like they will be writing today.

The core lesson:

Have students sit in a circle. Tell students to find a blank page in their journal and to get out a pencil. Have some students help to bring a few baskets out. Explain to students the proper way of holding baskets then begin to pass baskets around the circle. Tell the story of Vi Hilbert and how she donated the baskets specifically so students could feel them, smell them, and look closely at them. She did not want them to stay behind glass forever because she felt that their spirit would then die. Each basket has a song that was sung while the materials for it were being gathered and then woven together. Give a little background info on the baskets that were chosen. What are they made of? What tribe does it come from? How old is the basket? As students explore the baskets they can think about the materials and how the baskets were woven and how they made their way to Islandwood.

When all the baskets have gone around once place them in the middle of the circle. Ask students to begin writing from the perspective of one of the baskets in the middle.

Have students finish the last sentence in their writing and then put their pencils down. Explain that if they would like to finish their story they will get the journals back from their teacher and then get to keep them. Ask for volunteers to read their story aloud. Explain that it takes courage for someone to share and to emphasize respect.

Background information

See basket info binder in the prep room for information on how to handle the baskets, background info on Native art of the Pacific Northwest and locations of tribes. Info cards on individual baskets are located in the drawers below the basket case. - Suquamish tribal elder Ed Carriere demonstrates his process of making a basket. - Nationally acclaimed artist and Skokomish tribal leadr, Gerald Bruce Miller (subiyay) interpreted the sacred teachings of the natural world to anyone who wanted to learn. This gentle and generous film is the parting gift of a great teacher, artist and orator.

Created by Elizabeth Petrin on 4/22/09.