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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Awards

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John E. Pigeon and John M. Pigeon
2013 master artist and apprentice
Wayland (Allegan County)
black ash traditional Potawatomi arts

John E. Pigeon is a seventh-generation basketmaker, having learned from his mother and father, Jennie and Edmund White Pigeon, who learned from their parents and grandparents. Pigeon, like his parents before him, is known in the Native American community throughout Michigan and beyond for his mastery and teaching of black ash basketry and his knowledge about the Anishinaabe culture. Pigeon is especially active in his own community, that of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, where he teaches family and extended family, holds community black ash harvesting and weaving sessions, and hosts art markets, providing a way for artists to sell their work. John has shared his talents in numerous museum educational programs and exhibits such as the basketry show at the Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona), the Eiteljorg Museum (Indianapolis, Indiana) educational workshops, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, as well as the MSU Museum’s Great Lakes Folk Festival and in the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. His respectful teaching and sharing are what inspired those whose lives he’s touched to nominate him for the Michigan Heritage Award that he received in 2010.

John’s son, John M. Pigeon, is already an accomplished eighth-generation basket maker. In this apprenticeship, John E. helps John M. become more accomplished in other Potawatomi arts, including making snow snakes, spoons, toboggans, bowls and cups, bark rattles, and bow and arrows.

-Marsha MacDowell

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