Emma Jackson Garrett made river cane baskets, the oldest basketry tradition among the Cherokee. Only a few women in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians still make these beautiful baskets. She collected her own rivercane and dyed it with bloodroot or walnut. She also made white oak baskets.
Born and raised in Snowbird, the Cherokee community in Graham County, Emma Garrett grew up watching her grandmother Molly Brown make baskets. In the Cherokee tradition, she observed and then “slipped off by herself to figure it out,” she said.
Emma Garrett demonstrated rivercane basketry at festivals in Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Snowbird, and she also traveled to powwows occasionally. Her baskets won first place at the Cherokee Fall Fair and were sold at the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual. Her work was featured in the documentary video Cherokee Basketweavers. In addition to weaving baskets, Emma Garrett sang with a gospel trio from the Zion Hill Church in the Snowbird community.
Emma Garrett passed away on April 6, 2015 at the age of eighty-two.