1980.052.0001AThough stitching dyed porcupine quills to a bark foundation is an ancient Indian art, it is hard to practice: the quill ends must be inserted into holes made by an awl and then folded under, like staples. Indians everywhere collect bark from fallen trees, or harvest it from live ones in the spring, to fashion boxes, bags, wigwams, and canoes. Quill work, on the other hand, is most common on the East Coast and the Plains, where it is used to decorate special items of bark and hide. Many tribes switched to beads, as they are easier to manipulate, though the Chippewa and Micmac labored to preserve the art of quilling. The Micmac, in particular, “set the standard for the craft.”

Micmac; late nineteenth or early twentieth century
Eastern Canada (likely Nova Scotia)
Gift of Louis and Lyra Richmond