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Michigan Heritage Awards

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Photo of Anna Crampton weaving a basket
Photo by Mary Whalen

Photo of Anna Crampton's baskets
Photo by Mary Whalen

Anna Crampton
1998 awardee, Haslett (Ingham County), black ash basket maker

Born in 1927 and raised in Rosebush, Anna Crampton (Saginaw Chippewa/Grand River Ottawa) is an enrolled member of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe. She is a highly respected elder of the tribe located in Mt. Pleasant and a regular participant in pow wows and other Native American cultural and social events. Anna relocated to the Lansing area in the late 1940s and is currently on the board of Nokomis Learning Center in Okemos.

Anna learned basketmaking primarily from her parents, Michael and Eliza Jane Peters Neyome; Eliza learned in turn from her mother and grandmother who were also basketmakers. Because the children in the Neyome home grew up watching their parents make baskets, Anna and "all my brothers and sisters all knew how to do basket weaving. And the women that my brothers married, they also learned from my mother." (1)

Anna spends much of her time demonstrating the art of black ash basketweaving. In her teaching, she practices the same techniques and styles used by both her mother and grandmother. Three of her children make baskets, including Marclay who, with Anna, attended the 1997 Southwest Native Basketmakers Gathering in Arizona. For many years, Anna's husband, John, has assisted by pounding the ash and accompanying Anna to basketmaking events.

Anna has worked hard to maintain Native American traditional arts, striving to locate new markets and strengthen the network of communication between artists. She was involved in the formation of the Great Lakes Indian Artists Association and in "Sisters of the Great Lakes," a project of the Nokomis Learning Center. She has been a participant in the Festival of Michigan Folklife, a master artist in the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, and a primary force in the first Great Lakes Basket and Quillbox Makers Gathering held August 1997, in East Lansing.

Throughout Michigan, Anna's black ash basketweaving is highly praised. Her willingness to share her expertise has contributed to her notoriety. She continues to remain involved in the artistic traditions of her native heritage, attempting to maintain and perpetuate them by teaching young people.

(1) Crampton, Anna. Audio recorded interview with Betsy Adler at the Great Lakes Indian Basket and Boxmakers Gathering, East Lansing, Michigan. August 1997.

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