Sincere thanks to Walter Pusch (Great-Grandson of George/Mathilda Pusch) for these two special donations to the OVHS Collections. Walter donated a Pima/Papago and Apache Burden Basket.
Burden Baskets were typically used by Native American women to gather food, firewood and roots. When worn on the back, it left the hands free for other tasks.
The Pima Burden Basket (a kiaha) has a wooden frame with woven agave fibers.
The Apache Burden basket was made of natural fibers; yucca, devil’s claw, and willow in a coil design incorporating various patterns. The tassels were usually made from animal hide. Some tassels included “tinkling” tin at the ends presumably to scare off snakes.
Native women were not asked to carry more than their burden basket could handle. When not in use for collecting, the baskets were hung at the entrance to the home. Visitors would place their burdens in the basket so as not to trouble the sacred space of the family they were visiting. In other words, “leave your burdens at the door”.
This cultural custom exhibited self-reliance (working to collect your sustenance) and internal strength (respecting the happiness and privacy of the community by not sharing your woes).
We hope to have these on display in the near future, when the Pusch House Museum is able to open.