Peter Neptune (Artist Profile)

Peter Neptune, a Passamaquoddy Elder, learned as a child how to make baskets from his father. Basketmaking continues to provide the family with much needed income.

Peter’s sisters, Theresa Neptune Gardner (1935-2004), Clara Keezer (1930-2016), and Angela Barnes (1920-2003) were known for their fancy baskets that featured both brown ash and sweetgrass. His sister Edith Neptune Pond (1938-2006) was a sweetgrass braider capable of braiding 6 strands at a time into 100 yard-long cords. She supplied her sisters and other Wabanaki artists with sweetgrass braid to use in their baskets.

Peter is a traditional knowledge keeper and a fluent speaker of the Passamaquoddy language. He is renowned for his sturdy utilitarian forms (pack baskets, scale baskets, hampers, and gathering baskets) which are often ornamented with crossed splints and curlwork. Peter also picks sweetgrass, which is sacred, and used for smudging, medicinal purposes and is integral to basketmaking. He supplies Wabanaki basketmakers with grass, and he is known for his sweetgrass braids used in traditional tribal ceremonies.

Neptune is one of the few artists who has traditional knowledge of brown ash selection, harvesting and preparation. Peter is a key member of the Brown Ash Task Force, which seeks to protect this resource from the Emerald Ash Borer, from the loss of traditional habitat and access, as well as threats from climate change.

Peter, a Vietnam veteran, is also a board member of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA). His art forms are prized by buyers at shows and his work is in the collection of the National Museum of the American Indian and the University of Maine Hudson Museum. Peter Neptune is the recipient of grants from the Maine Arts Commission, the Master Apprenticeship program, and is currently teaching an apprentice the art of making pack baskets. He continues to mentor a new generation of basketmakers, including his daughter Victoria, his nieces and nephews, and others in the community.

Gallery – Peter Neptune, Passamaquoddy Basketmaker

Peter Neptune, Passamaquoddy Basketmaker (3 baskets) Peter Neptune, Passamaquoddy Basketmaker (HM7584) Peter Neptune, Passamaquoddy Basketmaker (HM7446)


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: