Monday, January 18, 2010

Julia Wesaw

Julia Wesaw was a member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, she was born in 1908 and passed on to a better place in 1992.

She learned the traditional art of black ash basket making from her grandmother, Swansee Augusta, and her mother Sarah Augusta who sold the handmade baskets.  Julia made three to four baskets a week, she preferred to make the more traditional black ash baskets, like sewing baskets with lids or the market basket with strong handles.   she also crocheted, quilted, and made traditional bead work.
She passed her skills of the arts to her granddaughters Tammy and Loretta Wesaw and great granddaughter Ginny.

Black ash basket making started to decline in popularity in the 1950's but was revived in the mid 1970's by Philip Alexis, who knew how to find the black ash tree and the Pokagon's have been making baskets ever since.

Since then many of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi members have been teaching how to make the black ash basket as was done during the tribes early existence.

Julia participated in the Smithsonian art festivals and her work can be seen all over the world, even today.  Her students live on and pass on the learning of the black ash basket making her part of Pokagon culture.

Photographs by Al Kamuzda, Michigan Heritage Awards. 
(Click on the title of this story for the source of article)

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