Pope Basket

Media - 2021.79 - SAAM-2021.79_1 - 143070
Copied Sheila Kanieson Ransom, Pope Basket, 2021, sweetgrass and black ash splints with commercial dye, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by Frances Dubrowski and David Buente, 2021.79

Artwork Details

Title
Pope Basket
Date
2021
Dimensions
6 in. × 10 58 in. (15.2 × 27 cm)
Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by Frances Dubrowski and David Buente
Mediums
Mediums Description
sweetgrass and black ash splints with commercial dye
Keywords
  • Object — other — basket
Object Number
2021.79

Artwork Description

Sheila Ransom made this basket to honor Kateri Tekakwitha (1656–1680), a Mohawk woman who was made a saint by the Catholic church in 2012. A prototype of this basket was given to the pope in honor of the canonization.


Ransom learned basketry from her godmother, renowned basket maker Mae Bigtree. The basket, in the traditional purple and white Mohawk colors, is made of sweetgrass interwoven with black ash splints. Black ash trees are currently being devastated by the invasive emerald ash borer, making it increasingly difficult for Native weavers like Ransom to source their wood.

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, 2022