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Penobscot Indian Camp-Indian Basket Makers--Lincolnville, ca. 1940

Contributed by Penobscot Marine Museum

In 1930, Penobscots Indians Leo and Florence Shay of Indian Island at Old Town set up a tent on a vacant lot at Lincolnville Beach with their three young sons.

The family made money during the Great Depression by selling baskets. They found a large stand of sweet grass, the aromatic plant used in their baskets, growing in the marsh behind the row of shops at the Beach, barely a hundred yards from their camp

Leo Shay and the sons harvested and prepared the ash splints that formed the body of the baskets, while the sweet grass they harvested was braided by women at Indian Island. Florence Shay used it as decorative accents as she wove each basket.

The Shays returned for most of the next 30 years to set up their Indian Camp basket tent.

In the photo, Florence is seen working on a basket in the entrance to their sales tent; the family lived in the rear tent.

In the 1960s their grandson, Bob Anderson, bought the business and continued to operate the popular Indian basket tent for another 30 years, finally moving the business a mile north to Ducktrap.

Florence Nicolar Shay was an outspoken advocate for Penobscot tribal rights, testifying on tribal issues before the state legislature and in 1942 publishing her History of the Penobscot Tribe of Indians. She was the subject of a 2006 book, Florence Nicolar Shay: Penobscot Basketmaker and Tribal Advocate.

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Other Information

  • Title: Penobscot Indian Camp-Indian Basket Makers--Lincolnville, ca. 1940
  • Creator: Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company
  • Creation Date: circa 1940
  • Subject Date: circa 1940
  • Town: Lincolnville
  • County: Waldo
  • State: ME
  • Media: Film negative
  • Dimensions (cm): 12.75 x 17.75
  • Collection: Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company
  • Object Type: Image

For more information about this item, contact:

Penobscot Marine Museum
PO Box 498, 5 Church Street, Searsport, ME 04974
(207) 548-2529

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