The Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA) was founded in 1993, to save the highly endangered ash and sweetgrass basketry weaving traditions of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Tribes. At the time of founding, there were fewer than a dozen basket makers younger than the age of 50 statewide, who were still practicing and learning this ancient and once prolific, art form.
Through 20 years of educational programs and marketing efforts, the MIBA has lowered the average age of basket makers from 63 to 40 and increased numbers from 55 founding members to 200+ basket makers today. These programs include: Traditional Arts Apprenticeships and Tribal Community Basketry Workshops.
Today, MIBA counts several nationally award-winning basket makers among the group, including; National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellows, First Peoples Fund Community Spirit Award Recipients, a United States Artists Fellow, Maine Traditional Arts Fellows and a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellow. The current MIBA President, Molly Neptune Parker, Passamaquoddy Tribe, is a 2012 National Heritage Fellow: http://arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/molly-neptune-parker.
MIBA artists have won the top awards in the large, national juried Indian art markets; while competing with hundreds of other Native American Artists for prizes; such as, at the annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market in Phoenix, AZ and at the storied nearly 100 years old Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico.
MIBA’s marketing efforts help provide sustainable income for tribal families, many of whom live in rural disadvantaged areas of Maine. Tribal basket makers earning income through the sales of baskets is historic, dating back 200 years at the Maine coast.