To Honour and Respect: Gifts from the Michi Saagiig Women to the Prince of Wales, 1860
Since 1860, the makakoons have been cared for at Swiss Cottage, part of the Osborne House estate on the Isle of Wight in England. They are on permanent display in a Victorian case where they occupy several long shelves. For their visit home, co-curator Lori Beavis arranged them in a circle, so that they can see and speak to everyone. Visitors are able to compare decorative styles and features on different makakoons by crossing the circle. Text panels about the art and relationships involved in making the makakoons, about gifting and diplomacy in Michi Saagiig society, about the Prince of Wales' visit, and reflections by community members today provide context for this powerful circle.
The women's names have been preserved on quilled tags, on handwritten scraps of paper, written directly on the makakoons, and in one case quilled directly on the surface of the basket. The women are:
Elizabeth (Betsy) Crowe
Emily (Mrs John) Rice Lake
Sarah (Sally) Taunchy
Two of the artists' names are no longer known.
An Indigenous-led, cross-cultural collaboration
Lori Beavis (Hiawatha First Nation) visited the makakoons at Swiss Cottage in 2016 after a tip from Professor Ruth Phillips. Lori returned determined to make these remarkable cultural items accessible to people at Hiawatha, and convened a week-long community knowledge-sharing seminar to begin discussions about this. In 2018, Laura Peers joined the team with international loans experience, and Susan Neale, Director of Peterborough Museum & Archives, stepped up to offer a host venue. All three major grants funding the project were collaboratively written by the team and a Project Planning Circle including Chief Laurie Carr, other knowledge holders at Hiawatha, and Veronica King-Jamieson (Mississauga Nation) has guided project development.