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Native American History Month Exhibit Opens at Alpena County Library

The new micro exhibit at the Alpena County Library, in celebration of Native American History Month displays Edith Bondie, a Mikado native and world famous basket maker of Chippewa descent and her process of basket making.

Black ash basket weaving is a long standing sacred tradition of Bondie’s people in northeast Michigan, passed down through generations.

“Our hope is that people will see not only the person, but the culture that’s here, but also the craft and the style of basket weaving that was famous in these areas,” said special collections librarian Don La Barre. “There’s examples in the Smithsonian, Edith got to go to the Soviet Union at the time and display her works, so it’s really amazing story and the exhibit shows that step by step process from picking the tree all the way to weaving the basket on site.”

The library found photographs and material related to Bondie’s story and felt it was important to tell that story this month. The exhibit displays the basket making process from start to finish, a perspective of her storytelling not often seen.

“We were very fortunate a couple months ago that we came across some materials that were related to this story and once we saw it, we were like, ‘oh my gosh, we have to make this into an exhibit and tell her story,’ because it’s really awesome,” said La Barre. “You get to see from start to finish her making one of her baskets, and that’s kind of a perspective you don’t really see when it comes to her storytelling.”

The library felt it was important to tell Bondie’s story, as the indigenous history in northeast Michigan is quite rich, but not yet told.

“We have a variety of different collections of the community, and so bringing a story like this is important, and sharing that kind of cultural significance of the basket weaving, but the story of her and her husband’s contributions to the community and they’re keeping the tradition alive,” said La Barre. “It’s a really important story to be sharing and promoting as well.”

The micro exhibit featuring Edith Bondie runs at the Alpena County Library until December 1.