This birch bark basket with sweet grass binding is a later work of Anishinaabe artist Lillian Wiser (1929–2011). Born on the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve in Canada, she learned basket making from her mother, Angeline Gabow, who made traditional baskets into her 90s. Wiser herself made baskets into her 80s, and passed down the tradition of basket making in this style to her sons, Fred and Russell Wiser. In 2006, the U-M Museum of Natural History purchased this basket at the Indian Hills Gallery in Petoskey, Michigan, for an exhibit and transferred it to UMMAA in 2007. It is referred to as a “blueberry basket” because of its function and its similarity to the shape of a ripe blueberry. In 2004, Wiser was commissioned by Cecil E. Pavlat, Sr. and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to craft a similar basket for donation to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in honor of its opening.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.