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Fine baskets in Tucson

November 06, 2005|Rosemary McClure

TAKE a bit of devil's claw, add beargrass and yucca, and with a century or so of experience, you may produce a basket as interesting as those woven by the Tohono O'odham. The baskets are among the classic Southwestern souvenirs available in colorful Tucson. Known for its unique culture -- a combination of Old West, Native American and Latino influences -- the city offers visitors a variety of typical Southwestern souvenirs. But fine Native American crafts are available too. And found in greatest abundance are the baskets of the Tohono O'odham, formerly known as the Papago Indians. Their reservation borders Tucson. The Tohono O'odham, whose name means "desert people," are the most prolific basket makers among Southwestern Native Americans. Their skills are handed down from generation to generation.

One of the best places to start is the Arizona State Museum Store at the University of Arizona. The nonprofit gift shop carries a variety of finely woven baskets from $35 to $880.

Arizona State Museum Store, University of Arizona, 1013 E. University, Tucson; (520) 626-5886,

The Desert House at Kaibab Courtyard Shops carries good quality Native American art and crafts. Tohono O'odham baskets are $24 to $1,975.

The Kaibab Courtyard Shops, 2837-41 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson; (520) 795-6905.

Don't miss Old Town Artisans in the El Presidio Historic District. This grouping of eight shops is in a 150-year-old adobe building and features traditional and contemporary art and crafts from local and regional artists. Definitely worth a visit.

Old Town Artisans, 186 N. Meyer, 201 N. Court Ave.; (800) 782-8072,

-- Rosemary McClure

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