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Lidded Birchbark Box

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.

Rose Kimewon Williams
(Canadian [Odawa], 1926–2002)
Lidded Birchbark Box
Late 20th/early 21st century
Birch bark, quills, sweet grass, thread
Diam.: 8 5/16 in (21.1 cm)
Gift of the Estate of Elinor Ostrom, 2012.54