JULY 10, 2004

PASSAMAQUODDY NOTED BASKETMAKER MARY MITCHELL GABRIEL DIED

Born November 12, 1908, in the Passamaquoddy Indian Township of Princeton, Maine, her mother and grandmother were dedicated basket makers.  Her father built birch-bark canoes, paddles, and snowshoes.  Using sweetgrass and brown ash splint, she made her first basket when 7 or 8 years old.  For 25 years, she and her family lived in Bangor, Maine, where she worked at a knitting mill.  The Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement enabled her to return to her childhood home where she continued making baskets.  Gabriel’s baskets are both traditional and individualistic.  They range from the popular striped bowl to her “baked bean crock” to the larger sewing and flat baskets.  Many of her covered baskets display the trademark braided frog handle that she created.  The closeness of the weave made them durable.  Gabriel also served as a senior counselor to the burgeoning basketry revival among Maine Indians.  She died in Indian Township on July 10, 2004. 

Source:  “Mary Mitchell Gabriel,” NEA National Heritage Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, 1994.  Retrieved 5/24/2020, https://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/mary-mitchell-gabriel
Photo:  Abbe Museum, date unknown.   Permissive Use: Consistent with the Abbe Museum Privacy Policy.  Source: abbemuseum.org.

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