River Cane

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River Cane break in Adair County, Oklahoma

River Cane has been a significant plant for all Southeastern Woodland Indians from prehistoric times to the present.  Preshistorically (before colonial contact) as well as historically Cherokees have always utilized this native grass known as ihi or dihiya by Cherokees or River Cane by the general public.

Cherokees have utilized the plant for a vast array of uses such as for housing, baskets, weaponry, traps, mats, furniture to name a few uses of this vital plant.  Today, River Cane is in danger of becoming extinct with the plant covering less than 2% of what it used to initially cover in the Southeastern woodlands of the United States.  

Before a person decides to undertake the labor intensive process of making a River Cane basket he/she should should consult with an expert in the field of River Cane study or a Native person who has been recognized by their tribe to be knowledgeable with River Cane.      

River Cane Storage basket
River cane basket storing hickory nuts and river cane splints

Young shoots growing and extending from a cane break.

Selecting the right cane.

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