Online Exhibits - Tree and Tradition
Passamaquoddy Creation Legend:
– Molly Sepsis, Passamaquoddy in Charles G. Leland, Algonquin Legends (1884).
Maine Native American baskets are made from brown ash–the Basket Tree–which grows in wetlands and around streams. A good brown ash log for basketmaking is straight and free of knots, at least six inches in diameter, and from five to 12 feet long. Splints for basket weaving are produced by pounding the entire log or wedges of it with the back of an axe or a sledge. The pounding causes the tree to split along its annual growth rings, producing splints. The splints are then ready to use or may be split with a splint gauge into widths ranging from 1/16-inch to 1/2-inch.