Planning ahead: Maine Indian Basketmakers Sale

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I’m a huge fan of Maine’s Native American basketmakers, and I’ve been collecting their handmade treasures for a loooonnnnggg time. This annual winter sale and demonstration is a great family event and an opportunity to support an endangered art form.

In previous years, the Maine Indian Basketmakers Sale and Demonstration has taken place at the Hudson Museum, on the University of Maine’s flagship Orono campus. Because that building is undergoing renovation, this year it will be held at the campus’s Student Rec Center, Dec. 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Members of Maine’s four tribes—Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot—will both demonstrate and sell their unique ash splint and sweetgrass baskets, which include creels, pack, potato, and fancy styles. Among the latter are strawberry, blueberry, and corn-shaped baskets as well as those using detailed weaving patterns, such as porcupine. Also on sale are handmade quill and beaded jewelry, wood carvings, and birchbark work.

Demonstrations planned include brown ash pounding, birchbark container making, carving, and fancy basket weaving.

The Penobscot Nation Boys and Girls Club will serve traditional fare including hull corn soup, fry bread, and blueberrry desserts. And to round out the event, there will be storytelling, dancing, singing, and drumming.

Here’s one more reason to attend the event and purchase a basket. The emerald ash borer is theatening all ash species, which in turn threatens this historical art form.

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