Native American


Artist: Wanesia Spry Misquadace
Culture/People: Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Fond du Lac Band
Place: Great Lakes, United States
Media: Glass, birchbark, freshwater pearls, silver sterling beads
Dims: Pendant 1.12 x 1.12 x .5 in (2.9 x 2.9 x 1.3 cm); Necklace String 10.5in (27 cm) 
Date: c. 2009
RTC No. NA1466
Gift from Patricia M. Newman Sept. 11, 2017, in honor of Judy M. Courtney


This locket contains an example of birchbark biting, an art form practiced by the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Odawa, Cree, and other Algonquian peoples in the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada.

To create a design, artists fold a piece of birchbark several times and then use their teeth to create an image. The image on the birchbark inside this locket is a turtle, the locket and clasp are also handmade. Birchbark bitings were originally used to create patterns for beadwork or quillwork and have evolved into a contemporary form of art. This piece by Wanesia is an example. Birchbark bitings are also part of a larger tradition of using birchbark to make objects such as birchbark scrolls, which have deep cultural significance.

Wanesia Spry Misquadace (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Fond du Lac Band) is an assistant professor at Arizona State University, where she teaches metalworking and indigenous art. Her work encompasses birchbark bitings, quillwork, beadwork, and silverwork. She also works to raise awareness of the art of birchbark biting in order to preserve the tradition.

For more information about past Coe programs discussing birchbark biting, please visit the Coe website:
2017 Wanesia Misquadace: Birch Bark Biting – Coe Center

Collections Spotlight with Kelly Church – Coe Center (discussion of birchbark bitings at the 25-minute mark)

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