I am forever grateful for being given the opportunity to learn traditional Black Ash Basketry. In 2008 I was chosen as a “student” to learn Basketry with the commitment that I would share what I learned in the future. I readily accepted the challenge and the responsibility.
I learned from experienced basket makers where to find and how to identify the Black Ash tree used as the raw material for basket making, as well as shown the labor intensive steps of preparing the raw material necessary before one can even begin to assemble baskets. What I appreciate about getting involved in this traditional art form is that is has engaged my entire families’ participation. Together we’ve taken down the tree, shaved the bark, pounded the log, split, shaved & gauged the raw material. When I demonstrate and teach basketmaking, it’s important to include these hands on activities to give people a true understanding of all the steps necessary to complete the finished product. I’ve made and taught utilitarian baskets – corn washers & berry baskets and decorative fancy baskets.
It’s a humbling experience to be a part of a renewed interest in the traditional art of Seneca Basketmaking. I look forward to sharing this knowledge with anyone interested, in order to keep this art form thriving within our Seneca communities.