Women of the Big Lake

This exhibit celebrates Mille Lacs Band members Maude Kegg, Batiste Sam, Margaret Hill, and Cheryl Minnema. Through their arts, writings, and teachings, these gifted women pass their cultural knowledge on to future generations.

See beaded clothing, baskets made from birchbark and sweetgrass, dolls, and more. Past and present merge in the creations on view. Learn how each woman drew on the strength and teachings of the Mille Lacs community to create her singular style.

Meet the Artists

Naawikamigookweban (Middle of the Earth Woman) Maude Kegg (1904-96) was an elder, storyteller, artist, and activist. She worked as a guide at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, and played a major role in developing the Four Seasons Room there. To help preserve and pass on Ojibwe customs and traditions, Maude published four books about her childhood and life in and around Mille Lacs.

Naawigiizisookweban (Noon Lady) Batiste Sam (1914-98) lived on the Mille Lacs reservation her entire life. Her mother taught her to make baskets from birchbark, an art she practiced for the rest of her life. She worked as a guide at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, and gave demonstrations and workshops for visitors into the 1990s.

Margeret Hill.

Wabooziban (Late Rabbit) Margaret Hill (1928-2009) worked at the reservation’s Nay-Ah-Shing schools and at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, where she conducted demonstrations and workshops for more than 30 years. She dedicated her life to teaching and sharing her knowledge with her family, her community, and anyone else who was willing to learn.

Cheryl Minnema.

Waabaanakwadookwe (White Cloud Woman) Cheryl Minnema (born 1973) was born in Minneapolis and raised on the Mille Lacs reservation. She grew up watching her grandmother, mother, and sisters bead traditional dance outfits. In addition to creating beaded clothing and other works, Cheryl has published two children’s books.