X8957 | Purse
About 1860, 19th century
25 x 11 x 20 cm
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
Keys to History
Wolastoqiyik were expert woodworkers, potters, canoe builders, toolmakers and artisans. They produced the durable, practical and reliable products needed to maintain their active lifestyle. Skilled technologists also produced traps, toboggans, snowshoes, canoes, paddles, wooden and ceramic cooking pots, axes, knives, wigwams, fish nets, baskets, spears, bows, musical instruments, all manner of clothing and more. Some stone tools recovered go back as far as 10 000 years!
By the late 19th century, European settlement and changing technologies had disrupted the traditional way of life for the aboriginal population of New Brunswick. Game began to disappear and it became necessary for Wolastoqiyik to trade with farmers for food, or seek employment on farms, in the lumber camps or as hunting and fishing guides. Others turned to the production of traditional decorative pieces such as baskets, which they sold or traded for a dependable source of income.
Source : Window on the World: The Rivers of New Brunswick [Web tour], by New Brunswick Museum (see Links)
The ash used to make baskets was pounded and then soaked prior to weaving, making the wooden strips easier to work.
Wolastoqiyik retrieve the ash used for basketmaking from the many islands that dot the St. John River.
Today, approximately 4 000 Wolastoqiyik continue to use and enjoy the Wolastoq Valley; another 1 500 reside in communities in Maine and Quebec.
Wolastoqiyik skills passed from generation to generation with parents and grandparents providing hands-on training to children.