Cherokee Burden Basket; A Song for Balance

Shan Goshorn
18 3/4 x 18 3/4 x 23 1/4”
Arches watercolor paper splints, first printed with archival inks , acrylic paint

This basket is created in the shape of a traditional Cherokee Burden basket. Historically, this basket would have a leather or cloth strap woven under the rim, to support to weight of a heavy load such as corn, nuts, bedding or firewood. The basket would be worn on the back with the straps looped around the shoulders or arms, similar to a backpack.

These splints are printed with a Removal Treaty (Treaty of New Echota), Boarding School Mission, High Statistics of Domestic Violence in Indian Country, Bottles of Alcohol, Indian Removal Act of 1830, Commercial/stereotypical use of Indian names (including mascots) and the New Testament in the Cherokee syllabary. The back side of all the splints (interior of this single-weave basket) were painted in deep muted colors to emphasize the darkness of these burdens to Indian people. A single splint centering each side was painted red, blue, white and black, symbolizing the four sacred colors and directions to the Cherokee. Each splint was printed with the Cherokee Morning and Evening songs which are sung to greet and close the day in a balanced way.