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Lidded Birchbark Box

Artist Rose Kimewon Williams (Odawa, Canadian, 1926–2002)
Culture Odawa
Title Lidded Birchbark Box
Date Late 20th–early 21st century
Medium Birchbark, quills, sweet grass, and and thread
Dimensions Object: 3 1/2 × 8 5/16 in. (8.9 × 21.1 cm)
Overall: 3 1/2 × 8 5/16 in. (8.9 × 21.1 cm)
Overall (basket without lid): 3 1/16 × 8 5/16 in. (7.8 × 21.1 cm)
Overall (lid): 1 3/4 × 8 5/16 in. (4.4 × 21.1 cm)
Credit Line Gift of the Estate of Elinor Ostrom, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 2012.54

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About this Work

Traditionally an important resource for Woodlands peoples, particularly the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Pottawatomi, birchbark was used not only for canoes and dwellings but also for containers of all sorts. The attachment of both natural and dyed porcupine quills (and less frequently bird quills) to birchbark objects is a distinctive decorative technique historically associated with these peoples and one that continues to be used today.

Rose Williams, who was self-taught, is particularly known for her tufted quillwork. With this technique, quills are sewn in small loops, with the ends left above the bark surface. When the quills are trimmed, a pile-like surface is created. Williams lived in the village of Wikwemikong, the first permanent settlement on Manitoulin Island, located in Lake Huron and the main settlement of the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, whose Ojibwa, Odawa, and Pottawatomi peoples form the Three Fires Confederacy.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

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"Lidded Birchbark Box | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.