Nancy Basket is the descendant of Margaret Basket, a Cherokee basketmaker in Virginia in the mid-1800s. Even though Basket grew up in Oklahoma close to her Cherokee grandmother, she did not learn to make baskets from her. It was when she lived as an adult in Washington State that she met another Cherokee who sparked her interest in basketmaking. Basket apprenticed with this individual on traditional Cherokee style of basketmaking, while introducing additional techniques from Native people in the Northwestern United States. Basket moved to Union County, South Carolina in 1989 to be closer to traditional materials such as the long leaf pine and to be closer to the Cherokee reservation in Western North Carolina.
Since her move to South Carolina, Basket has worked with numerous school groups and in many public settings to promote Native basketmaking techniques. While she works with principally Cherokee techniques, Basket’s work takes from other Native cultures as well, drawing parallels between the diverse groups of Native peoples in the United States. Her dedication to the craft has earned her recognition from organizations such as the SC Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina. Nancy is ensuring the craft is passed to her children and grandchildren so this important part of our cultural legacy is not lost. Basket received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 2005.
NOTE: Video transcripts are available for the videos below.