Indian baskets can be difficult to authenticate if you're not an expert in the field. Different tribes made different types of baskets and have different designs. But one thing they share is the baskets were almost always made of wood, tree bark, grass, pine needles, pounded ash splints, sumac, river cane wicker, and even roots. Some of the different groups include the Hopi, Navajo, and Inuit baskets.
Hopi baskets have colorful pictures woven into them with long grasses. Indians would use dyes from berries they gathered to create color on the baskets. The most common pictures found on the Hopi baskets are usually animal pictures, the most popular being the eagle, followed by the turtle. Geometric shapes are also very popular in Hopi baskets as well as other Indian baskets. You can identify a Hopi basket by the coil method used in making it. A variety of colorful grasses are spun around various evergreen plants (also called yucca), creating one coil. After making several coils, they are then stitched together to make the basket.
The Navajo baskets also use the same coil method as used in the Hopi baskets. The pictures displayed on the Navajo baskets can include tribal dancing ceremonies, horses, landscapes, and hunting scenes. These are the things that the Navajo valued the most, therefore you will find a lot of these values expressed in most of their artwork, this also makes the Navajo baskets very easy to identify. Navajo baskets were also used for ceremonial purposes, in fact the Navajo believed that holy people made baskets when they lived in the underworld specifically for tribal rituals. Since they are in fact believed to be so holy, it makes the Navajo baskets hard to find.
The Inuit Indians are North American Indians; most of them are from Alaska. The Inuit baskets (or Eskimo baskets) were often made of sea lime grass, due to their location, the sea lime grass was plentiful and easy to obtain.
If you are planning on buying any kind of authentic Indian Art, make sure the gallery you are buying from is a reputable company. Also, keep in mind that not all authentic Indian work is signed. You can purchase Indian Art (including baskets) online as well, but just like the galleries, make sure that it is a reputable company before making your purchase. Educating yourself on Native American artwork is also a wise choice, there are several books you can purchase that will teach you how to tell the real baskets from the fakes, read up on articles that you find online and talk to other people who have purchased authentic pieces. Follow these tips and you should have no problem finding real Indian baskets.