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Adopt-a-Basket Program

Would you like to help preserve a basket?

The Burke Museum Archaeology Division has established an Adopt-a-Basket program that allows the public to help save artifacts from a significant Washington State archaeological site.

Learn more! Rediscovering Ancient Basketry from the Biderbost Site

Basketry that has been rehoused.
Basketry that has been rehoused.

Local Archaeologist Saves a Site and a Collection

In the fall of 2006, Dr. Astrida Blukis Onat, owner of BOAS, Inc., a cultural resource management firm in Seattle, donated forty-five boxes of more than 3000 artifacts and archives from the Biderbost Site (45-SN-100) along the Snoqualmie River to the Burke Museum Archaeology Department.

A variety of significant artifacts were recovered, most notably hundreds of basketry fragments and pieces of fishing gear, as well as mineral-painted cobbles. A single radiocarbon date from the site indicates that people lived there at least 2400 years ago.

The first excavations at this site were conducted in the late 1950s and early 1960s by members of the Washington Archaeological Society (WAS). In the late 1970s Dr. Blukis Onat, then professor at Seattle Central Community College, investigated the site with field school students. Over the years, students helped to catalog and store the collections, but no formal analyses have been published.

The Donation

Recognizing the importance of the site, Dr. Blukis Onat purchased the property from the Milwaukee Railroad during bankruptcy proceedings in the 1980s. Since then, the collection has remained in private storage.

To ensure long term preservation and access to this unique and important site, Dr. Blukis Onat transferred the collections to their new home at the Burke Museum.


Fishing weight encased in damaging plastic
Fishing weight encased in damaging plastic


Fishing weight rehoused in acid-free box
Fishing weight rehoused in acid-free box

Rehousing the Collection

The Archaeology Department immediately began the intensive process of cataloging, rehousing, and conserving the collection to encourage research access. Future studies and analysis of this collection are essential to better understanding this region. To help preserve the collection, all of the objects are being rehoused in new acid-free boxes that are specially designed for those objects. The basketry had been soaked in polyvinyl acetate for initial stabilization, but this treatment has caused the baskets to adhere to the aluminum and plastic-lined acidic cardboard in which they are currently housed. As part of our conservation plan these baskets must be painstakingly removed from their deteriorating containers before they incur further damage.