Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Agnes Rapp (1920 - 2003), a member of the Grand Traverse Chippewa and Odawa Tribe of Indians, learned to weave strips of black ash wood into basket designs from her Odawa stepparents, John and Dela McSawby. "They were into baskets all the time... so I grew up with basketry, you know... I would cut up the material (black ash splints) on the floor and crisscross 'em and tie 'em up with string and stand ' em up and pretend I'd made a basket." The family sold their baskets for food money during the Depression. By the time she was ten, Agnes was regularly helping Deliah make baskets and even filling oders on her own. "I got an order for myself to make little round baskets with handles and when I got those finished the money was mine and I bought a pair of shoes."
In 1939, Agnes married Michael Rapp, a Pokagon Potawatomi from Southern Michigan. They first lived in Leland and then, during World War II, moved to southwest Michigan because Michael got a job in a defense plant in Benton Harbor. They both joined a group of Potawatomis who regularly met at a community center in Dowagiac to make baskets.
Agnes Rapp is a master black ash basket maker and exert from her book describe her love of culture. Her baskets are represented in many museums and private collections, including China.
(Click on the title of this story for the entire article)