Louisiana Coushatta Basket Makers
"Louisiana Coushatta Basket Makers" brings together oral histories, tribal records, archival materials and archaeological evidence to explore the fascinating history of the Coushatta tribe’s famed basket weavers. After settling at their present location near the town of Elton, Louisiana, in the 1880s, the Coushatta (Koasati) tribe developed a basket industry that bolstered the local tribal economy and became the basis for generating tourism and political mobilization. The baskets represented a material culture that distinguished the Coushattas as Indigenous people within an ethnically and racially diverse region. Tribal leaders serving as diplomats also used baskets as strategic gifts as they built political and economic allegiances throughout the 20th century, thereby securing the Coushattas’ future.
As they tell the story of Coushatta basket makers, Linda P. Langley and Denise E. Bates provide a better understanding of the tribe’s culture and values. The weavers’ own “language of baskets” shapes this narrative, which depicts how the tribe survived repeated hardships as weavers responded on their own terms to market demands. The work of Coushatta basket makers represents the perseverance of traditional knowledge in the form of unique and carefully crafted fine art that continues to garner greater recognition and appreciation with every successive generation.