Ojibwe bulrush mat, 1898
The Minnesota Historical Society has several Ojibwe made fiber mats in their collection. This particular mat is made from bulrush and basswood with green and purple dyed rushes weaved to form a geometric design. Other fibers, like cedar or sage, were commonly used to produce these kinds mats as well.
Pictured below is an Ojibwe woman weaving a bulrush mat, circa 1910. There were several different weaving techniques employed by the Ojibwe and these were sometimes dependent on the fiber used. These mats had multi-functional uses such as floor and door coverings, sleeping mats, and drying mats for wild rice.
Olivia Stout, History Museum Fellow Intern
Baskets and materials at April's home
Recently, Native American Artist-in-Residence (NAAIR) and MNHS staff had the opportunity to visit April Stone, one of the most recent NAAIR recipients. Her art is basket making, primarily black ash which she harvests herself dragging the log from the swamp to be treated for splints before weaving the material into baskets. April finds the trees close to her home in the southeast corner of the Bad River Reservation, Wisconsin.
Since basket making is quite involved, the materials and tools can take up a lot of space. April’s home, where she currently does her work, is filled with both splints and tools but also many finished baskets. Although an intriguing sight to see, April is working on moving her workspace elsewhere. Thanks to previous grants and the funding from this artist-in-residency, April has been able to construct an outbuilding that will serve as her studio space.
April in her home
April hopes to continue her work with ash basketry in order to share it with the local community and also regionally. NAAIR has allowed her to continue the strides she has made within the community by passing on her knowledge to community members of all ages. April will also be continuing studying historic baskets in collections at various museums and institutions in Wisconsin.
Learn more about the Native American Artist-in-Residence program.