Woodland Indian Traditional Artist Project Collection, 1992-1995

Summary Information

Collection Summary

Title: Woodland Indian Traditional Artist Project Collection
Dates: 1992-1995

  • Wisconsin Folk Museum
Unique Identifier: CSUMC0006-CG

Contents: Wisconsin Historical Society Museum Division: approximately 50 artifacts; James P. Leary, 18 folders, 17 digital audio tapes, 27 CD audio copies; James P. Leary and Janet C. Gilmore: approximately 1,500 color slides, approximately 823 black-and-white negatives, approximately 23 contact sheets, miscellaneous files

Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
432 East Campus Mall, Room 332
Madison, WI 53706
Web site: http://csumc.wisc.edu

Archival Location:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Supported by the Wisconsin Folk Museum and informed by the region's folklorists, the Woodland Indian Traditional Artist Project resulted in the ethnographic documentation of 16 Woodland Indian traditional artists from the Upper Midwest in 1994-1995, acquisition of approximately 50 pieces of their art work, an exhibit that featured the artifacts, a traveling photo-text exhibit that toured four Woodland Indian nation centers, a summer-fall artist demonstration series, and a Down Home Dairyland radio program. Folklorist James P. Leary recorded and transcribed the interviews with the artists, while photographer Lewis Koch photographed them and their work. The featured artists represented Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Meskwaki, Ojibwa, Oneida, and Potawatomi traditions including appliqué and dressmaking; black ash splint and birchbark basket-making; varied types of beadwork; rabbit fur blanket-making; birchbark canoe-making; cradleboard-making; cornhusk doll-making; flute-making; icefishing decoy making; moccasin-making; yarn sash fingerweaving; silver and German silver jewelry-making; and woodcarving.

Language: Manuscript materials and sound recordings are in English with some Ojibwa and Ho-Chunk terms.

URL to cite for this finding aid: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-csumc-csumc0006cg
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Collection Concordance by Format
Quantity Physical Description Location
Manuscript Materials
18 folders James P. Leary
Sound Recordings
17 digital audio tapes James P. Leary
27 CD copies of audio tapes James P. Leary
Graphic Materials
approximately 1,500 35 mm color slides Leary and Gilmore
approximately 671 35 mm black-and-white negatives, 18 contact sheets Leary and Gilmore
approximately 72 35 mm black-and-white negatives, 2 contact sheets James P. Leary
approximately 80 35 mm black-and-white negatives, 3 contact sheets Janet C. Gilmore
approximately 50 artifacts WHS Museum Division


Folklorist James P. Leary and photographer Lewis Koch conducted the ethnographic documentation of 16 master artists in the region and purchased artifacts from most of them. Janet C. Gilmore coordinated the project's administration, the Wisconsin Folk Museum exhibit design and installation, the traveling exhibit production and tour, and the summer-fall 1995 artist demonstration series. Fred Nahwooksy and UW-Madison graduate student Susan Neill installed the Folk Museum exhibit, folklorist Anne Pryor developed a curriculum guide, reviewed by Francis Steindorf, and led tours of the exhibit with area schoolchildren, and folklorist Trudy Balcom toured the traveling exhibit during Summer 1995. Wisconsin Folk Museum Board members Sheila Leary, Andrea Christofferson, and Anne Bandow, as well as Museum staffer Lonna Arneson helped with publicity, marketing, events, and sales. Paul Borowsky compiled mailing lists for publicity. Regional folklorists, notably Rick March, Phil Nusbaum, and Steve Ohrn, along with the Michigan Traditional Arts Program team of Yvonne Lockwood, Marsha MacDowell, and Kurt Dewhurst, provided help in identifying master artists to document or in putting together mailing lists to reach the region's Indian nations.

Project History

This project aimed to document and exhibit Woodland Indian traditional heritage in the Upper Midwest region through a representative range of artists, nations, genders, ages, and artistic expressions. Undertaken in 1992 through the Wisconsin Folk Museum, the project resulted in ethnographic documentation, an artifact collection, an exhibit installed at the Folk Museum, a traveling photo-text exhibit that was hosted at Lac du Flambeau, Mille Lacs, Oneida, and Stockbridge-Munsee venues, and a summer-fall series of artist demonstrations at the Folk Museum through 1995. Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (Folk Arts), the Wisconsin Arts Board, the Fund for Folk Culture, and the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission supported different phases of the project.

Artists documented included Bertha Blackdeer (Ho-Chunk black ash baskets), Elena Greendeer (Ho-Chunk beadwork and appliqué), Josephine Daniels (Potawatomi moccasins), Ned Daniels (Potawatomi cradleboard), Kenneth Funmaker Sr. (Ho-Chunk German silver jewelry), Margaret Hart (St. Croix Ojibwa moccasins and beadwork), Gerald Hawpetoss (Menominee moccasins and regalia), Myron Lowe (Ho-Chunk woodcarvings), Edwin Martin (Stockbridge-Munsee silver jewelry), Kim Cornelius Nishimoto (Oneida cornhusk dolls), Earl Nyholm (Ojibwa birchbark canoe), Julia Nyholm (Ojibwa rabbit fur blanket), Batiste Sam (Mille Lacs Ojibwa birchbark baskets), John Snow (Ojibwa icefishing decoys), Adeline Wanatee (Meskwaki fingerwoven yarn sashes), and Louis Webster (Menominee courting flute).

A half-hour Down Home Dairyland radio program on Woodland Indian courting flute music featured Louis Webster and aired in Fall 1994. The in-house exhibit, “We Chose to Go That Way: Works and Words by Master Traditional Woodland Indian Artists of the Upper Midwest,” opened at the Wisconsin Folk Museum in May 1995 and ran until the Museum closed in 1996. It represented each of the 16 artists by one or more artifacts, a biography, a lengthy quote, and two to five photographs showing the artist at work, materials and construction techniques, and the context in which the artist works. Gilmore and Leary worked with folklorist educator Anne Pryor to develop an in-house exhibit tour for 4th, 5th, and 8th grade students. Pryor created a curriculum guide and conducted the tours with area teachers and students during Spring and Fall 1995, while Gilmore provided a behind-the-scenes exhibit installation component.

The traveling photo-text exhibit, “The Only Way to Get It, Is to Make It: The Experiences of Woodland Indian Traditional Artists,” combined 36 historical and contemporary photographs with quotations from the artists. Arranged to convey significant experiences shared by the artists, the 12 photo-text panels explored such themes as the grounding of traditional arts in an old way of life, the importance of ancestors, spirituality, the dynamic between tradition and innovation, and the various influences of white contact and the pan-Indian powwow scene on traditional arts. Folklorist Trudy Balcom toured the exhibit during Summer 1995 to the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa Museum, the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, the Oneida Nation Museum, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Arvid E. Miller Memorial Public Library. In 1996 the Oneida Nation Museum purchased the exhibit from the Wisconsin Folk Museum.

The summer-fall artist demonstration series at the Folk Museum in 1995 featured traditions related to both Woodland Indian and Norwegian-American exhibits at the Museum. Demonstrators included Menominee Gerald Hawpetoss, Ojibwas John Snow and Earl and Julia Nyholm, Ho-Chunks Bertha Blackdeer, Elena Greendeer, Ruth Cloud (baskets), and Lila Blackdeer (regalia), and Norwegian-American musician Bruce Bollerud, woodcarver Ed Barsness, fiddlemaker Ron Poast, and rosemaler Lois Mueller.

Scope and Content Note

The Wisconsin Historical Society Museum Division possesses the artifacts purchased during the survey, most of which appeared in the “We Chose to Go That Way” exhibit at the Folk Museum, as well as the mounted photo enlargements and exhibit text from the exhibit.

Folklorist James P. Leary possesses some National Endowment for the Arts and Fund for Folk Culture grant files and the project's ethnographic documentation, which included transcribed audiotapes and some traveling exhibit text. The “Woodland Indian Project” materials held by Leary document the preparation and implementation stages of the project as well as the lives and work of the featured traditional artists. The “Grant: NEA Woodland Indian Project Year 1, 1992 October-1993 September” file contains the grant application, resumes, letters of support, NEA terms and conditions, grant award letter, request for extension of grant, 1995 final report, financial reports, and correspondence. The “Grant: Fund for Folk Culture Woodland Indian Project, 1994-1995” file consists of the grant application, resumes, FFC guidelines and application forms, grant award letter, expenses, a January 6, 1995 interim report, and a 1995 final report. The “Contacts” file includes an Indian Tribes of Wisconsin brochure; a contact list with artist name, skill, address, and phone number; a Folk Museum newsletter announcing the project; handwritten notes; and a tentative list of artists to be documented with name, skill, tribe, state, and gender, compiled in 1992. The “WFM (Wisconsin Folk Museum) Woodland Indians” file contains planning materials including a project description, a slide index of artist samples, and a proposal for a book project. The “Events/Publications” file consists of a Wisconsin Folk Museum newsletter, letters to Madison newspapers to advertise events, copies of articles, and press releases.

Files on each artist documented in the project are also available. Each of the artist files contains tape transcripts, correspondence with the artist and/or relatives of the artist, short biographies and quotes that were used in the exhibit, and consent forms. Some files contain newspaper articles and brochures. The “Ned and Josephine Daniels” file contains a floppy diskette and an autobiography of Josephine Johnson Daniels based on the interview with Leary. The “Myron Lowe” file contains no consent form. The “John Snow” file includes a photograph, instructions for carving a John Snow brown trout icefishing decoy, and articles about him. The “Louis Webster” file contains an autobiography based on the tape transcript, a photocopy of his promotional biography with photo, and a tape index from a 1989 interview conducted by Leary.

Also included are 17 digital audio tapes containing interviews with the artists. The interviews provide narratives of the lives and work of the artists, detailing how traditions have been passed on and altered over time. CD copies of the tapes were prepared in 2005.

Janet C. Gilmore and James P. Leary maintain at their home in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, the Lewis Koch photography of the artists--color slides and black-and-white negatives, contact sheets, and some prints--as well as their own photographs of the artists and their artistry during fieldwork, artist demonstrations, or in exhibits. Gilmore also has amassed a miscellany of unprocessed files, color slides, black-and-white negatives, and contact sheets regarding the two exhibits, the traveling exhibit tour, the summer 1995 artist demonstrations, grant administration, marketing, and publicity.

Related Materials

Hocak Wazijaci Artistic Traditions Project Collection (CSUMC0007-CG)

In Tune With Tradition: Wisconsin Folk Musical Instruments Project Collection (CSUMC0035-CG)

Wisconsin Folk Art: A Sesquicentennial Celebration Project Collection (CSUMC0037-CG)

C. Kurt Dewhurst. “Hooked on Carving: Ice Fishing Decoy Carving in Michigan.” New York Folklore 19: 3-4 (1993): 1-18.

James P. Leary. “Alex Maulson, Winter Spearer.” New York Folklore 19: 3-4 (1993): 43-58. Also in Wisconsin Folklore (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998): 396-406.

Philip Nusbaum. “Spear Fishing and Spear Fishing Decoy Collecting: Connected Yet Separate Existential Worlds.” New York Folklore 19: 3-4 (1993): 19-42.

Robert T. Teske, ed. In Tune With Tradition: Wisconsin Folk Musical Instruments. Cedarburg, WI: Cedarburg Cultural Center. 1990. (exhibit catalog, exhibit, and research project)

Wisconsin Folk Museum Records, M98-044, Artist Files, at the Wisconsin Historical Society Library-Archives Division contains 11 Woodland Indian artist files--for Joe Ackley, Ben Chosa, Ruth Cloud, Corine De Cora, Josephine Doud, Kenneth Funmaker Sr., Margaret Hart, Alex Maulson, Connie Rivard, Josie Ryan, and Louis Webster--that relate to prior ethnographic documentation, public programming, and/or artifact acquisitions. Several of these files reflect additional Woodland Indian artifacts from the former Wisconsin Folk Museum Collections, beyond the artifacts acquired for the Woodland Indian Traditional Artist Project; these artifacts now reside at the Wisconsin Historical Society Museum Division.


Productions resulting from the described fieldwork were:

Janet C. Gilmore, curator. “We Chose to Go That Way: Works and Words by Master Traditional Woodland Indian Artists of the Upper Midwest” exhibit and summer-fall artist demonstration series at the Wisconsin Folk Museum. Mt. Horeb: Wisconsin Folk Museum. 1995.

James P. Leary, Janet C. Gilmore, and Lewis Koch, curators. “The Only Way to Get It, Is to Make It: The Experiences of Woodland Indian Traditional Artists” traveling photo-text exhibit. Mt. Horeb: Wisconsin Folk Museum. 1995. Re-created online by Carrie Roy, Mark Livengood, and Janet C. Gilmore. Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison Folklore Program and the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, 2013.

James P. Leary and Richard March. Chapter/Program 2, “Woodland Indian Fiddles and Jigs,” and Chapter/Program 32, “In Tune with Tradition: Wisconsin Instrument Builders,” in Down Home Dairyland: A Listener's Guide. Madison: Wisconsin Arts Board and University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents. 1996. Reprint: Madison: Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2004.

Key Subjects
Groups (Ethnic, National, Cultural, Religious, etc.)

  • Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians of the Bad River Reservation, Wisconsin
  • Forest County Potawatomi (Wis.)
  • Fox Indians
  • Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin
  • Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan
  • Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
  • Lac Vieux Desert Band of Chippewa Indians
  • Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
  • Menominee Indians
  • Meskwaki Indians
  • Mesquaki Indians
  • Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians
  • Ojibwa Indians
  • Oneida Indians
  • Oneida Nation
  • Potawatomi Indians
  • Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa
  • St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
  • Stockbridge and Munsee Tribe of Indians
  • Winnebago Indians


  • Bowler (Wis.)
  • Crandon (Wis.)
  • Crystal Falls (Mich.)
  • Cumberland (Wis.)
  • DePere (Wis.)
  • Friendship (Wis.)
  • Grand Forks (N.D.)
  • Lac du Flambeau (Wis.)
  • Menominee County (Wis.)
  • Middle West
  • Onamia (Minn.)
  • Oneida (Wis.)
  • St. Paul (Minn.)
  • Tama (Iowa)
  • Waunakee (Wis.)
  • Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin Dells (Wis.)


  • Appliqué
  • Birchbark baskets (makuks)
  • Black ash splint basketry
  • Canoes and canoeing
  • Cornhusk craft
  • Cradleboards
  • Fingerweaving
  • Fingerwoven beadwork (or pahx-keh)
  • Fingerwoven yarn sashes
  • Fish decoys
  • German silver
  • Ice fishing
  • Indian baskets
  • Indian beadwork
  • Indian blankets
  • Indian regalia
  • Moccasins
  • Native American flute
  • Nickel silver
  • Paax ge
  • Pah-keh
  • Pahx-keh
  • Sashes (Clothing)
  • Silver jewelry
  • Wood-carving

Traditional Artists

  • Blackdeer, Bertha
  • Blackdeer, Lila Greengrass
  • Cloud, Ruth
  • Daniels, Josephine
  • Daniels, Ned
  • Doxtator, Vickie
  • Funmaker, Kenneth, Sr.
  • Greendeer, Elena
  • Hart, Margaret
  • Hawpetoss, Gerald
  • Lowe, Myron
  • Martin, Edwin
  • Nishimoto, Kim Cornelius
  • Nyholm, Earl
  • Nyholm, Julia
  • Sam, Batiste
  • Snow, John
  • Wanatee, Adeline
  • Webster, Louis

The Wisconsin Historical Society acquired the artifacts from the Wisconsin Folk Museum upon its closure in 1996. James P. Leary and Janet C. Gilmore are temporarily housing remaining portions of this collection, along with other documentation regarding the project, in their home or at UW-Madison, as they continue to work with the materials.


Contact records custodians for access information.

Wisconsin Historical Society
Museum Division
816 State St.
Madison, WI 53706
Email: paul.bourcier@wisconsinhistory.org
Phone: (608) 264-6573
Web site: http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=N:1133
James P. Leary and Janet C. Gilmore, Folklorists
209 S. 4th St.
Mount Horeb, WI 53572
Email: jpleary@wisc.edu
Email: jgilmore@facstaff.wisc.edu
Phone: (608) 437-4816

Consult repositories for information on use restrictions. For items held by James P. Leary and Janet C. Gilmore, access to the materials for nonprofit personal, educational, and research purposes may be arranged. Duplication of materials for public presentation, publication, and production requires negotiation with Leary, Gilmore, photographer Lewis Koch, and the people documented.

Preferred Citation

Please consult repositories for guidelines. We suggest the following citation form when using direct quotes from a person documented: [Name of person documented]. [Date]. [Tape/video/other]-recorded interview by [Fieldworker name]. [Place interviewed]. [Name of collection/project]. [Repository, city, state]. When using a specific image: [Identify subject matter/people in caption]. Photo/image by [Photographer/fieldworker name]. [Date]. Courtesy of [repository]. To quote fieldworker, follow bibliographical style.

Collection Inventory and Description
Series: I. MANUSCRIPT MATERIALS. James P. Leary.
Folder   1
Grant: NEA Woodland Indian Project Year 1, 1992 October-1993 September
Folder   2
Grant: Fund for Folk Culture Woodland Indian Project, 1994-1995
Folder   3
Folder   4
WFM (Wisconsin Folk Museum) Woodland Indians
Folder   5
Events/ Publications
Folder   6
Ned and Josephine Daniels
Folder   7
Kenneth Funmaker Sr.
Folder   8
Elena Greendeer/ Bertha Blackdeer
Folder   9
Margaret Hart
Folder   10
Gerald Hawpetoss
Folder   11
Myron Lowe
Folder   12
Edwin Martin
Folder   13
Amelia Cornelius/ Kim Cornelius Nishimoto
Folder   14
Julia and Earl Nyholm
Folder   15
Batiste Sam
Folder   16
John Snow
Folder   17
Adeline Wanatee
Folder   18
Louis Webster
Series: II: SOUND RECORDINGS. James P. Leary. Woodland Indian Digital Audio Tapes and CD copies
Bertha Blackdeer, Oneida, Wisconsin, 1994 June 29-30
Physical Description: 2 tapes 
Josephine Daniels, Crandon, Wisconsin, 1994 July 15
Ned Daniels, Crandon, Wisconsin, 1994 July 15
Kenneth Funmaker Sr., Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, 1995 March 24
Elena Greendeer, Oneida, Wisconsin, 1994 June 29
Margaret Hart, Cumberland, Wisconsin, 1994 July 18
Gerald Hawpetoss, Grand Forks, North Dakota, 1994 July 12
Physical Description: 2 tapes 
Myron Lowe, Waunakee, Wisconsin, 1994 June 21
Edwin Martin, Bowler, Wisconsin, 1994 July 6
Kim Cornelius Nishimoto, DePere, Wisconsin, 1995 January 26
Earl Nyholm, Crystal Falls, Michigan, 1994 July 16
Julia Nyholm, Crystal Falls, Michigan, 1994 July 16
Batiste Sam, Onamia, Minnesota, 1994 July 20
John Snow, Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, 1994 July 14
Adeline Wanatee, Tama, Iowa, 1994 July 7
Louis Webster, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1995 January 21
Series: III: GRAPHIC MATERIALS.James P. Leary and Janet C. Gilmore
Physical Description: approximately 1,500 35 mm color slides; 671 35 mm black-and-white negatives by Lewis Koch and 18 contact sheets; approximately 72 35 mm black-and-white negatives and 2 contact sheets; approximately 80 35 mm black-and-white negatives and 3 contact sheets 
Series: IV: ARTIFACTS. Wisconsin Historical Society Museum Division. Wisconsin Folk Museum Artifacts.
1996.118.76: Meskwaki fingerwoven sash: Adeline Wanatee
1996.118.77: Meskwaki fingerwoven sash: Adeline Wanatee
1996.118.80A-B: Potawatomi beaded moccasins, pair: Josephine Daniels
1996.118.81A-B: Ojibwa beaded moccasins, pair: Margaret Hart
1996.118.82A-B: Menominee beaded moccasin vamps, pair: Gerald Hawpetoss
1996.118.84: Ojibwa rabbit fur blanket: Julia Nyholm
1996.118.85: Ho-Chunk fingerwoven pah-keh: Elena Greendeer
1996.118.86: Ojibwa tobacco bag: Margaret Hart
1996.118.87: Ho-Chunk ribbonwork skirt: Elena Greendeer
1996.118.88A-C: Oneida cornhusk doll set: Kim Cornelius Nishimoto
1996.118.89A-E: Oneida cornhusk doll set: Kim Cornelius Nishimoto
1996.118.90: Oneida cornhusk doll: Kim Cornelius Nishimoto
1996.118.91: Oneida cornhusk doll: Kim Cornelius Nishimoto
1996.118.92: Ojibwa beadwork pendant Indian figure: Margaret Hart
1996.118.93: Menominee courting flute: Louis Webster
1996.118.95: Potawatomi cradleboard: Ned Daniels
1996.118.96: Ho-Chunk German silver waterbird: Kenneth Funmaker Sr.
1996.118.97: Ho-Chunk German silver brooch: Kenneth Funmaker Sr.
1996.118.98: Ho-Chunk German silver brooch: Kenneth Funmaker Sr.
1996.118.99A-B: Ho-Chunk silver earrings (pair), WWII First Division motif: Kenneth Funmaker Sr.
1996.118.100: Ho-Chunk German silver necklace: Kenneth Funmaker Sr.
1996.118.101: Stockbridge-Munsee “Many Trails” silver pendant: Edwin Martin
1996.118.104A-J: Ojibwa icefishing decoy kit: John Snow
1996.118.105A-B: Ojibwa icefishing decoy and jigging stick: John Snow
1996.118.106A-B: Ojibwa icefishing decoy and stick: John Snow
1996.118.109: Ojibwa birchbark wild rice winnowing tray: Batiste Sam
1996.118.111: Ho-Chunk black ash splint market basket: Bertha Blackdeer
1996.118.114: Ojibwa birchbark basket purse: Batiste Sam
1996.118.373A-B: Menominee beaded moccasins, pair: Gerald Hawpetoss
1996.118.374A-B: Menominee beaded moccasins, pair: Gerald Hawpetoss
1996.118.375A-H: Menominee moccasins in progress: Gerald Hawpetoss
1996.118.376.1: Menominee moccasin component: Gerald Hawpetoss
1996.118.376.2: Menominee moccasin component: Gerald Hawpetoss
1996.118.376.3: Menominee moccasin component: Gerald Hawpetoss
1996.118.376.4: Menominee moccasin component: Gerald Hawpetoss
1996.118.376.5: Menominee moccasin component: Gerald Hawpetoss
1996.118.376.6: Menominee moccasin component: Gerald Hawpetoss