Maine Indian Basketmakers
In this area, we celebrate Maine’s indigenous artistic traditions. Award-winning Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot artists have gathered at Common Ground Fair for over two decades each toqakuwi-kisuhs (September). Basketmakers using brown ash and sweetgrass create both fancy baskets and sturdy work baskets, such as pack baskets and potato baskets. Jewelers and beadworkers craft traditional objects as well as extraordinary contemporary works.
We invite you to connect with the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance on Facebook and explore these websites: Hudson Museum, University of Maine, Maine Forest Service, Penobscot Nation Museum.
We will miss seeing you in person this year! We hope that you will contact Wabanaki artists—all members of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance–directly, for one of a kind brown ash and sweetgrass baskets, birchbark work, art, drums, jewelry, and maple syrup. They are listed in the Fair Book on pages 19 and 20. Acquire your first Maine Indian basket, work of art or to add to your collection!
Molly Neptune Parker (1939-2020) was an anchor of the Maine Indian Basketmakers area, and fairgoers would look for her there each year when they visited. We are saddened by her passing, and will miss her. Through this video, we are all still able to learn from her as she teaches us about different types of baskets.
Adopted with permission from the Mi’kmaq Honor Song. This was translated from the Mi’kmaq language into the Penobscot language. This video is for learning purposes as well as sharing a piece of our community Bunawuhpskegk (Penobscot Nation) with you all. Gabriel Paul has often participated in the Fair, and fairgoers will recognize the song from previous visits!
Fairgoers might recognize Theresa Secord from her work in working in organizing the Maine Indian Basketmakers area at Common Ground. In this beautiful video, Theresa demonstrates and speaks about her basketry work.
Learn about Wigwams from Barry Dana, former Chief of the Penobscot Nation and a previous keynote speaker at the Common Ground Country Fair.
In this video we learn from Dr. Darren Ranco, Penobscot professor at UMaine, and a panel of indigenous scientists and artists from the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance. This talk was recorded in 2019 at the Colby Art Museum during the landmark Wiwenikan exhibition. The Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA) is a nonprofit, Native American arts service organization dedicated to preserving the ancient traditions of ash and sweetgrass basketry among the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes in Maine.
This video features Gabriel Frey finishing one of his contemporary purse baskets using traditional tools and techniques.
Clara Keezer (Passamaquoddy, 1930-2016) was a lifelong basketmaker and National Heritage Fellow who, in this video, shares some of her story along with images of her many beautiful baskets.
In this video, Fred Tomah (1951-2018), a Maliseet basketmaker, demonstrates his techniques and talks about the symbols he integrates into his art.
Mary Sanipass (Mi’kmaq), a master basketmaker, tells stories from her life as she weaves an ash basket in this video.
In this video, Eldon Hanning (Mi’kmaq) takes us for a walk through the woods and shows us how he harvests ash for basketmaking.