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Johnson Family Collection of Abenaki Basketry and Tools

three baskets

The Abenaki basketry collection donated by Rodney Johnson of Rochester, NY, is a unique collection of 20th century Native American material culture handed down through four generations of his family. The collection, which includes baskets, basket-making tools, birch bark and wooden items, represents the types of things once made by Mr. Johnson’s great-grandparents, Norman and Angeline Sarah (Totoson) Johnson and his great-uncle George Johnson in Lake George, NY, during the early to mid-1900s.

As early as the mid-19th century, Native American families would sell beadwork, baskets, and other hand-made items as souvenirs to tourists at well-known vacation destinations such as Niagara Falls, Saratoga Springs, and Lake George. The Johnson family was among a group of Native American artisans who settled in Lake George where they ran a small store selling baskets, canoes, and other items. Their family’s collection, which also includes a cradleboard donated by his great-grandmother in 1909, is the largest and best documented collection of Abenaki material culture ever acquired by the NYSM.

Open to Collaborate

The New York State Museum is committed to the development of new modes of collaboration, engagement, and partnership with Indigenous peoples for the care and stewardship of past and future heritage collections. See Local Contexts for more information.