Basketry made by Coushatta women served functional economic purposes such as winnowing, sifting, and storing corn even before European contact, and during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a non-Indian market for the baskets evolved, leading to shifts in both basket forms and Coushatta marketing techniques over time. As members of the Coushatta community in Louisiana pushed for federal recognition, basketry became an important symbol of potential economic self-sufficiency and indigenous identity. After federal recognition, basketry served as an important part of the community's early efforts at economic development and public relations. This essay analyzes the shifting role of Coushatta basketry with particular emphasis on basketry's use in political advocacy in the twentieth century.
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