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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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Patricia Shackleton and Michelle "Micki" MacPherson
2014 master artist and apprentice
Haslett (Ingham County) and Sault Ste. Marie (Chippewa County)
Anishnaabek birch bark cutouts

Shackleton Michelle "Micki" MacPherson (left) and Patricia Shackleton (right).

Photo courtesy of Patricia Shackleton

Patricia Shackleton, a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, has held a variety of positions in local and state government to achieve her aim and has been an advocate for Native rights. She is also a highly motivated and committed educator about Ojibwe and Native culture and history. Through her birch bark cutouts, stone pipe carving, and storytelling she preserves Native knowledge and skills.

The tradition of birch bark cutouts was almost lost in regional Woodlands Native cultures until relatively recently. The designs and family patterns, handed down from generation to generation, were both ornamental and teaching tools. Today, birch bark cutouts are once again a highly valued viable art form. Each image has multiple meanings and the cutouts are used in various ways, for example, as a pattern for quill and beadwork or a design on festival regalia clothing.

Patricia learned the basics of birch bark cutouts as an apprentice in 1997 to the Anna Hubbard of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and has since greatly developed her skills and taught several apprentices as a recipient of the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. Patricia has also been an apprentice to James Anderson for stone pipe carving and to Larry Plamondon for Native storytelling. In 2012, her sister Micki MacPherson, long interested in learning the craft, finally found unexpected and welcomed time to learn this art. Both sisters look forward to sharing knowledge of birch bark art with others to keep this tradition alive.

Marsha MacDowell

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