Friday, July 22, 2005

Native American Indian Art Basket Maker Meets Bomb Squad

Native American Indian art basket maker Hope Flanagan shares her skills with high school students at Anishinabe Academy, Minneapolis. But on June 9, Flanagan's artwork met the Minneapolis Police Department's bomb squad. She wanted her students to learn about an ancient Native American Indian art basket-making technique involving strips from black ash trees. To make the black ash bark pliable, the tree trunk portion must be soaked in water for a year before the wood can be used. Soaking a tree that was cut down a year ago was a challenge. "I don't live near a lake or on a river," said Flanagan, who lives in the city. So she bought a PVC plastic pipe from a hardware store that was big enough to hold the 4-inch ash trunk. She put her black ash in the pipe, capped one end, filled it with water and capped the other end. On June 8, she brought the entire thing to school. Her students opened the pipe to a "rather strong odor," Flanagan said. The bark was peeled back and then the students used mallets to pound the ash to create strips. At the end of the school day, she put the ash back in the pipe and filled it with water again. However, because of the odor, the pipe was put in a plastic garbage bag outside the school. The next morning, the school's head engineer spotted the garbage bag, checked inside and saw the capped PVC pipe, which can also be used to make bombs. The engineer called police who called in the bomb squad. "If people suspect something, they should err on the side of safety," said police spokesman Ron Reier. The school area was cornered off and the bomb techs blew up the pipe which resulted in the discovery of the remaining 3-foot section of black ash. So goes another story with Native American Indian art in the modern world.

For a look at some very nice contemporary Native American Indian art, see the Free Spirit Gallery website.

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