Bentwood Boxes & Chests
Before the Europeans explored the Northwest Coast, the Native People had bentwood boxes in every household. Before the metal pots and pans arrived, they even used a plain box for cooking on hot coals. They came in many sizes for storing woolen garment sand other cloths, they also were used to store food and greases.
These early craftsmen used a single plank by kerfing 3 sides and steaming, then pegging the fourth to make a box. Then they added a recessed bottom to make the boxes watertight.
The plainer ones were for everyday use and cooking, but some could be well decorated by painting, copper and even shells added. The more decorated ones might indicate the owners were of a higher class in the tribe.
These boxes were prized possessions and treated with care for they may be passed down to the next generation.
Some were constructed for the sole purpose of a mortuary box.