Potawatomi baskets displayed in Epcot exhibit

Baskets woven by Pokagon Band artists are now on display at Disneyland’s Epcot Center in the American Adventure Pavilion, as part of the “Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art” exhibit. The exhibit features creations from 40 different tribes to honor Native American culture.

The exhibit features artwork from our ancestors, as well as modern pieces. We loaned a large black ash hamper from the early 20th century, two smaller baskets made by Agnes Rapp in the ‘90s, two black ash corn baskets by Jennie Brown, and a black ash basket created by Christine Morseau just this year to the exhibit. Fellow tribes loaned blankets, sculptures, and other items.

Tribal Archivist Blaire Topash-Caldwell worked with Disney on this collaboration, hesitantly at first because of Epcot’s history of cultural appropriation, but as she continued to dig into the project, she was reassured by their meaningful collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and individual artists.

“Disney has a world-wide audience, and having our history and material cultural heritage reach thousands of visitors from around the globe is an amazing opportunity,” Blaire said. “Our baskets tell the story of our art and our environment which constructs our identity. Having both Agnes Rapp and Christine Morseau’s baskets in the exhibit also tells a family history—seeing how generational influences manifest themselves in their individual works.”

The exhibition was produced in collaboration with NMAI in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico.