Theresa Secord (Artist Profile)

Theresa Secord (b.1958) is a traditional Penobscot basket maker. Theresa learned to weave in a traditional setting on Indian Island Maine in 1988 from an elder in the community, Madeline Tomer Shay. She uses her great-grandmother’s wooden forms and tools dating to the 1800s that have been handed down to her.

Theresa is teaching many to weave ash and sweet grass baskets. She is currently working with her long time apprentice, Erica Nelson Menard, her cousin. Secord has also taught her son Caleb Hoffman who is now an apprentice to Jeremy Frey.

Theresa’s work resides in museums and private collections across the nation. She’s regularly won prizes for her art in national, juried art shows.

Her recent work features color palettes and weaving forms derived from nature, climate change and ecological concerns––periwinkle snails, sturgeon, and monarch butterflies. She is also known for her acorn, corn, barrel, and jar baskets. In addition to using brown ash and sweetgrass, she integrates cedar bark and other materials into her works.

Additional Achievements

In addition to being an artist and teacher, Theresa was the founding director of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA). During her 21 years of leadership, MIBA has been credited with helping to save the endangered art of ash and sweet grass basketry. She did so by lowering the average age of basket makers from 63 to 40; and increasing numbers of weavers from 55 to more than 150; in the Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Nations.

Among several honors for this work and for her artistic excellence, she received a lifetime achievement award, the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2016. In 2009, Theresa was honored with the First Peoples Fund’s Community Spirit Award. In 2003, the Prize for Creativity in Rural Life presented by the Women’s World Summit Foundation, at the UN in Geneva Switzerland. Finally, in 2021, Secord was named a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow.

Currently, Theresa serves as a trustee at the Portland Museum of Art and a Museum Governor at the Colby College Museum of Art where she continues to advocate for Wabanaki artists. She advises and consults with other museums on exhibitions and collections.

For more information, please visit: or follow her on Facebook ( or on Instagram (

Video: Theresa Secord – Penobscot Basket Weaver

Photos – Theresa Secord (Traditional Ash and Sweet Grass Basketry)

Upcoming 2023 Wabanaki Winter Market (Saturday, December 9, 2023) :

Organized by the Hudson Museumthe Wabanaki Winter Market is New England’s largest holiday gathering of Wabanaki artists. The annual december event features Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance award-winning weavers, as well as new artists representing the next generation of weavers.

The event is supported in part by grants from the Maine Office of Tourism and the Onion Foundation

Location of the event: The Collins Center for the Arts (2 Flagstaff Road|Orono, Maine)
Date: Saturday, December 9, 2023 (from 9 am to 3 pm)
Contact: Gretchen Faulkner | Director, Hudson Museum (207.581.1904)

For event updates, please visit: