September 30, 2008

Video on Potawatomi basket weaving

Students help weave film featuring Potawatomi family, basket-makingRachel Swem conceded it's pretty cool to be in a movie. But she also understands she's part of a larger picture.

The 11-year-old sixth-grader and schoolmates at Forest Hills Goodwillie Environmental School spent much of last week as a backdrop for a documentary video conceived to provide a window into the struggles of West Michigan American Indian families trying to find their place in a society dominated by people of European descent.

The documentary centers on the Potawatomi family of Steve and Kitt Pigeon and the ancient tradition of basket-weaving that has been kept alive in their family for generations.

"We're trying to help document it because, after a few more years, the ash trees could be gone, and people might forget what the Indians did," Rachel said. "We want to help people remember the contributions they made."
Comment:  Someone should do a documentary on how "basket weaving" came to be synonymous with a Simple Simon college course. Did a higher institution of learning really offer a class in basket weaving? Was it taught by an Indian? As with any manual task--learning to play the piano or fix an auto engine--it doesn't seem particularly easy to me.

For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.

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