Paula Thorne corn basket, Indian Island, ca.1999


Paula Love Thorne, a member of the Penobscot Nation, made this corn basket made of ash and sweetgrass. Thorne hails from a long line of basketmakers. Her mentor was renowned Penobscot weaver, Christine Nicholas.

Baskets made in the forms of vegetables and fruits are common in Wabanaki culture. Wabanaki people, usually women, grew varieties of corn, beans, and squash in what are called Three Sisters planting mounds. Wabanaki diets also relied on foods like acorns and butternuts—trees that were decimated by European harvesting for timber and masts. The corn form could reflect tribal histories relating to the First Mother, who sacrificed her life to provide corn and food for the people.

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