An enthnobotanical analysis of basketry Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/x920g2092

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  • The focus of my thesis is ethnobotany which seeks to examine botanical resources and their context within particular cultures. My ethnographic research identifies and interprets the cultural processes woven into Oregon's coastal basketry through spirituality, environmental habitats, and utilized plant species. This is augmented with botanical research addressing the question of whether the basketry materials utilized by the diverse population of Pacific Northwest Tribes, can be identified to species through microscopic analysis. Comparative epidermal and cuticle techniques are tested for diagnostic potential in a pilot test of 19 species sampled from existing populations on Oregon's coast, from Tillamook Bay in the north to the Coquille River in the south. It builds on and seeks to integrate the knowledge of which native plant species have been historically utilized as fiber materials for baskets, mats, cordage and other woven articles by various Oregon and Northern California bands and tribes that are currently represented by the Coquille Indian Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde, and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz. My research consists of three phases; 1) historic and ethnographic research, 2) standard taxonomic identification of targeted wetland species through collection of living plants, and 3) a comparative study of the cuticular surface of plants using scanning electron microscopy. My results confirm that epidermal and cuticular characteristics are diagnostic; however, the range of variability in the surface wax is extreme in the 19 selected wetland plants and can often be an impediment to the analysis of underlying characteristics. Furthermore, my results have a limited scope for the identification of basketry materials. The comparative process appears to be valuable in excluding known and identified botanical materials, but not in specifying which species is represented due to the range of possible and unknown species. With more comprehensive libraries of analyzed species, the gap between the eliminated species and the identified ones would narrow. Therefore, the identification of basketry materials to species is possible using the processes considered in this test pilot study but the number of analyzed species would need to be greatly expanded.
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