In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Maine Memory Network

Early Indian Objects and Baskets

This Exhibit Contains 24 Items
1
Reconstructed ceramic pot, ca. 2700 BP

Reconstructed ceramic pot, ca. 2700 BP

Item 23445 info
Maine Historical Society

Early Indian Objects



The next six objects are part of an archaeological record that provides important insights into life in Maine -- a history that is more than 10,000 years old.



This pot was found at Harlow's Point along the shoreline of Lake Auburn in 1881. Fill material was added to reconstruct its original shape and "tripod legs" added to display the pot.



The potter who made the piece pressed tools into the wet clay to make a distinctive, decorative pattern.



It was made in the Ceramic Period that began in some 2700 years ago.


2
Molly Ockett's purse, ca. 1785

Molly Ockett's purse, ca. 1785

Item 6802 info
Maine Historical Society

The objects in this section are examples of the types of museum artifacts collected in the past to document the early history of Maine people.



This purse belonged to Pequawket Molly Ockett who lived in the Bethel area. It is made of moose hair, wool, and hemp and woven with intricate geometric patterns.



Eli Twitchell probably made the silver clasp in 1788. Molly Ockett provided medical services to early European settlers.


3
Iron axe head, Auburn, ca. 1700

Iron axe head, Auburn, ca. 1700

Item 23446 info
Maine Historical Society

Archaeologists study objects to understand life ways of the past. Close examination of artifacts can reveal how things were made or used, where they came from, and in this way provide tangible evidence about daily life and connections to the natural world.



This iron ax was found at the head of Lake Auburn. Europeans probably traded it to Native Americans for furs or other materials. It is made in the French style.



Axes like this were important and common trade items.


4
Spear point, Hallowell, ca. 2500 BP

Spear point, Hallowell, ca. 2500 BP

Item 23447 info
Maine Historical Society

Not every type of object survives -- wood and fiber objects decay over time, while stone and ceramic items remain relatively stable, even in the ground.



This point is made of translucent stone that was only quarried in Ramah Bay in Labrador. It suggests an early trade network between Native American communities in Maine and the Maritimes.



It was found in Hallowell.


5
Blocked-end tubes, East Machias, ca. 2500 BP

Blocked-end tubes, East Machias, ca. 2500 BP

Item 23448 info
Maine Historical Society

This tube probably was used for smoking tobacco. It was excavated in East Machias in the 1860s.



The tube is made of a stone found only in Ohio and provides important evidence of an early trade network between Maine and western Indians.


6
Wabanaki trade brooch, ca. 1780

Wabanaki trade brooch, ca. 1780

Item 6657 info
Maine Historical Society

Trade networks were important to Maine Indians both before the Europeans arrived and after.



This trade silver brooch came from the family of James A. Purinton, Indian Agent serving at Old Town, Maine between 1860 and 1864.



This silver brooch was an object of status and power for Maine Indians and was worn by both men and women.



A non-Native silversmith crafted it and probably presented it to a Maine Indian tribal member as part of diplomatic activity between the tribe and government officials.


7
Clara Neptune, Portland, 1920

Clara Neptune, Portland, 1920

Item 5270 info
Maine Historical Society/MaineToday Media

In this photo taken at Portland's Deering Oaks Park during the Maine Centennial celebration in 1920, Penobscot Indian Clara Neptune is wearing two silver brooches.



Passamaquoddy and Penobscot women started wearing the brooches in the 1600s and continued into the early 1900s.



The brooches replaced other ornaments, such as seashells, inscribed stonework and birch-bark designed brooches, which women had worn in the past.


8
Glooskap looking at the whale smoking his pipe

Glooskap looking at the whale smoking his pipe

Item 7532 info
Maine Historical Society

Glooskap came first of all into this country . . . into the land of the Wabanaki, next to sunrise. There were no Indians here then. And in this way, he made man: He took his bow and arrows and shot at trees, the basket-trees, the Ash. Then Indians came out of the bark of the Ash-trees.



-- Passamaquoddy creation legend, 1884



Gluskabe -- alternately spelled Gluskap, Glooskap, Gluscabi, Koluscap -- and his twin brother, Malsum, are giants who have amazing powers.



Gluskabe is a hero of the Wabanaki people, while Malsum causes trouble and evil. Gluskabe's teachings are an inspiration to Maine Indian artists.



Gluskabe was an important inspiration to Native American artists.






9
Glooskap and Keanke spearing the whale

Glooskap and Keanke spearing the whale

Item 7531 info
Maine Historical Society

One particular duty above all I must mention and you must obey; that is, you must teach the people never to leave this land to seek other lands; so when you make yourself a vessel let it be so made that it will only be large enough to serve you on the rivers and lakes, because when I first opened my eyes I beheld large bodies of water all around the land upon which we move and stand; and in the seventy times seven nights the Great Spirit said unto me, "There shall be other people live on the land as well as your people."



from The Life and Traditions of the Red Man by Penobscot Indian Joseph Nicolar, 1893.


10
Penobscot band basket, ca. 1860

Penobscot band basket, ca. 1860

Item 23438 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

Baskets

Created from brown ash, the "basket tree," the earliest Maine Indian baskets were most likely pack baskets, fish traps and storage containers.



Over time, basketmakers created a wide variety of fancy and work basket forms for use in the home, fields, woods, textile mills and fish processing plants throughout Maine and New England.

This form of basket is referred to as a "band" basket from the brightly colored splints used in the piece.



Cadmium yellow, iron oxide red, Prussian blue and indigo were swabbed onto the exterior surface of the splints only. Such commercially produced pigments were costly and used sparingly.



Band baskets were destined for home use to store hats, clothes or linen, or for use in travel as "suitcases."


11
Penobscot open sewing basket, ca. 1860

Penobscot open sewing basket, ca. 1860

Item 23439 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

This Penobscot open sewing basket is made with an ornamental weave called porcupine curls because of the sharp points created by twisting the weavers or horizontal splints.



The technique was developed about 1860.


12
Penobscot square band basket, ca. 1880

Penobscot square band basket, ca. 1880

Item 23440 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

A square band basket made by a member of the Penobscot Nation about 1880.



The bands are nearly black, probably from indigo dyes, which can range in color from a light, bright blue to a blue-black depending on the concentration used.


13
Penobscot pin cushion, ca. 1934

Penobscot pin cushion, ca. 1934

Item 23441 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

Penobscot Theresa Camilla Lyon Sockalexis made this pin cushion, part of a set of sewing notions for home use.



She was renowned for her fine basketwork, a tradition carried on by her great grandchildren.


14
Penobscot scissors case, ca. 1934

Penobscot scissors case, ca. 1934

Item 23442 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

The scissors case was part of the set Theresa Camilla Lyon Sockalexis made.



She was noted for her fine, miniature baskets.


15
Thimble basket, Indian Island, ca. 1934

Thimble basket, Indian Island, ca. 1934

Item 23444 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

The Wabanaki -- the Micmac, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot of Maine and the Abenaki of Quebec -- share many traditions, including the Gluskabe legends.



While many of their art forms are similar, some designs and details often can be used to identify the maker.



The thimble basket is another piece of the set of sewing baskets that Penobscot Theresa Camilla Lyon Sockalexis made.


16
Penobscot button basket, ca. 1934

Penobscot button basket, ca. 1934

Item 23628 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

Many Indian artists, including Theresa Camilla Lyon Sockalexis, who made this basket that is part of a sewing set, passed along their knowledge and skills to children, grandchildren and other interested tribal members.



The traditions therefore have continued for many generations.


17
Penobscot urchin basket, ca. 1890

Penobscot urchin basket, ca. 1890

Item 23500 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

Not only did Indian basketmakers live by Gluskabe's notions of respecting nature by taking only what was needed, some of their forms replicate those found in nature.



For instance, based on the sea urchin, this form continues to be made by Penobscot and Passamaquoddy basketmakers.


18
Penobscot glove box, ca. 1890

Penobscot glove box, ca. 1890

Item 23499 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

This Penobscot glove box has an unusual decorative curl treatment, apparently used only in the late 1800s.



The basket was made to hold the elbow- or three-quarter-length gloves fashionable at the time.


19
Abenaki fan, ca. 1900

Abenaki fan, ca. 1900

Item 23501 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

An Abenaki Indian from Odanak in Quebec probably wove this fan.



Maine Indian families produced similar fans, selling them along with other novelty goods at coastal and lakeside resorts as well as at department stores.


20
Jar basket, ca. 1960

Jar basket, ca. 1960

Item 23455 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

This type of basket was woven over a jar of B & M Baked Beans and continues to be a popular form of baskets for Maine Indian basketmakers.



By the nineteenth century, when Maine Indians were no longer able to survive by hunting and fishing and other traditional methods, many began making baskets for the tourist trade.



To supplement their incomes and provide necessary cash to purchase manufactured goods, Maine Indians created and sold novelty goods -- baskets, birchbark work and carvings.




21
Sweetgrass flat, 1995

Sweetgrass flat, 1995

Item 23456 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

Lawrence "Billy" Shay (1912-2000) made this sweetgrass "flat" basket.



Sweetgrass grows in marshy areas and is harvested one strand at a time. It is used in baskets both because it is decorative and its scent is pleasant.



Once the sweetgrass is dry, the basketmaker braids the three to six strands together. The braid is woven into the basket.


22
Penobscot miniature hamper, ca. 1960

Penobscot miniature hamper, ca. 1960

Item 23457 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

The horizontal pieces in the basket are called "weavers" and the vertical pieces are "standards."



This basket with several bands of different color weavers in the middle has carrying handles on the sides and a lid.



A Penobscot Indian made it.


23
Sewing basket, ca. 1930

Sewing basket, ca. 1930

Item 23458 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

This Maine Indian basket features "Roman" colors, in which groups of brightly dyed standards (the vertical splints) have been grouped together like bands of the rainbow.


24
Trophy cup, ca. 1930

Trophy cup, ca. 1930

Item 23459 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

This basket form appears to date to the 1930s and may be based on the trophies that Andrew Sockalexis, a Penobscot, received as a marathon runner.



It utilizes Hong Kong cord, a manufactured paper twine introduced in the 1920s as a sturdy substitute for sweet grass braid.




This Exhibit Contains 24 Items