baskets have been shown in three continents in world-class museums,
one of her baskets was presented to Pope Benedict at the Vatican,
and now ten lucky students had the opportunity to learn from master
basketmaker Sheila Ransom. Children from 9 years old to 14 years
old met two times a week for a two-hour class at the Akwesasne Museum.
Ms. Ransoms specialty is making fancy baskets, but for this
class she taught the skills she had learned from another master
basketmaker, Henry Arquette, to make a small pack basket.
Ms. Ransom is still recovering from several brain surgeries
that she endured this past November and it took until March of 2013
to be strong enough to start making baskets again. While it took
more than a few moments to remember the techniques and skills of
basket making, every time she worked on her baskets more and more
of it came back. Ms. Ransom started making baskets when her Godmother,
Mae Bigtree taught a basket making class at the Akwesasne Museum.
Afterwards she would go home with her Godmother, and they often
worked on their baskets until past midnight.
Ransom finds basket making very therapeutic and attributes much
of her recovery to practicing a craft she loves very much. If youve
seen her baskets or are fortunate enough to own one, you would be
familiar with the skill, workmanship and passion that she weaves
into each basket she creates. Ms. Ransom said, To me, making
baskets is so relaxing and I just feel good after working with baskets,
and teaching children how to make baskets is just as therapeutic.
They were so good to work with, they really wanted to learn.
The basket making students are; Tiffany Brann, Jaryn Chubb, Levi
Herne, Logan Herne, Lexis Jacobs, Roman Jacobs, Kayla Jacobs, Keirsha
Swamp Jacobs, Kiara Swamp Jacobs, Savannah Swamp, Jillian Johnson
and Mia Mitchell.
Just as Mae Bigtree passed down her skills and techniques to
her Goddaughter, Ms. Ransom is doing the same with her granddaughter,
Mia Mitchell. Mia joined her Grandmother during this class and was
often seen helping other students with their baskets. It was here
at this class that Ms. Ransom noticed just how much Mia had been
watching and learning from her grandmother. As we talked about the
class and how well Ms. Ransom is recovering, Mia was sitting close
by finishing her own basket.
The New York State Council on the Arts funded this basket making
class. The Akwesasne Museum will be offering other basket making
classes by Sheila Ransom and Henry Arquette. Look for announcements
in future issues of Indian Time. Who knows where the next master
basketmaker is? Maybe its you.