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Large Fancy Basket [Passamaquoddy] | Mary Mitchell Gabriel
Native American Basket
A large Passamaquoddy brown ash splint and sweetgrass fancy basket by Mary Mitchell Gabriel. It measures 11 1/4 inches wide and 9 inches high. The basket cover is topped by Gabriel’s trademark braided frog handle that she invented. The basket has a particularly tight weave, another characteristic that her baskets are known for. The bottom of the basket is signed “Mary Gabriel.” Gabriel was the first Maine indigenous American to receive the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the American National Endowment for the Arts in 1994. Eleven such fellowships were presented that year and Gabriel was the only recipient from New England. Gabriel was born in 1908 in Motahkomikuk/Indian Township in northern Washington County, Maine. Her mother and grandmother were basket makers, and her father built birch-bark canoes, paddles, and snowshoes. She learned basketmaking from her grandmother and made her first basket when she was about seven years old. Later as an adult and a single mother with seven children, Gabriel moved to Bangor, Maine and earned a living working at the Emple Knitting Mill for 25 years. She continued to make baskets when she could. After the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement of 1980, Gabriel returned to Motahkomikuk and greatly expanded her basketmaking. She bought the sweetgrass and brown ash splints from other members of the Passamaquoddy tribe. Gabriel died in 2004. The Tides Institute purchased this basket from a collector of Gabriel’s baskets one year before Gabriel passed away. Artist: Mary Mitchell Gabriel Classification: North American Basket Old Accession Number: 1194 Description. Passamaquoddy. Large fancy basket.