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Black Ash


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Emerald Ash Borer Conference
“Protecting Black Ash Basket making: The Threat of the Emerald Ash Borer on Native Cultural Resources”

March 17th, 2006
Plainwell, Michigan

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian Arts Program in collaboration with local artist Kelly Church from Wayland, Michigan, will be hosting a Community Arts Symposium. The purpose of the symposium will be to provide information that is available in Michigan about emerald ash borer (EAB) and its effect on Ash trees, to teach collection of seeds for future use, and the preservation of Black Ash basket making. A panel of experts about EAB and basket making include:

  • Debra McCullough- Associate Professor of Forest Entomology, Michigan State University. Dr. McCullough will present information in EAB discovery, infestation, preventative measures, and other issues related to EAB.
  • John Pigeon- Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians- A nationally recognized Black Ash basket maker will demonstrate working with Black Ash and discuss the importance of preserving basket making.
  • Les Benedict- Akwesasne Mohawk Nation- Les will provide information on seed identification and collection. Les will also discuss log storage and have a book about BLACK ASH for sale that he co-authored with Richard David.
  • Phil Bell- Representative from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Mr. Bell will discuss issues related to EAB.
  • Dave Ellis- From the National Seed Preservation Lab in Ft. Collins, CO. Mr. Ellis will discuss the Seed Storage program available to tribes in the U.S.
  • Cherish Parrish and John Pigeon (Youth Representatives)- the youth are the reason we need to preserve Black Ash trees and basket making. They will discuss the responsibilities they will have in the future to preserve and pass on Black Ash basket making.
  • June Mamagona Fletcher- Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians- will moderate the panel discussion and Q and A with audience members.

After Lunch there will be presentations by other area experts from agencies in Michigan involved in work dealing with EAB. These include:

  • Sharon Lucik- Public Affairs Specialist- USDA APHIS
  • Robin Millsap- EAB Communications Specialist- MSU
  • Jessica Simons- Natural Resource Specialist from the Southwest Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council
  • Katie Armstrong- EAB Liaison- USDA Forest Service
  • Patricia Lockwood- (or representative) Emerald Ash Borer Policy Director- State of Michigan.
  • John Leif- Manager of Rose Lake Plant Materials Center (East Lansing, MI)- USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • Dave Burgdorf- Plant Materials Specialist- Rose Lake Plant Materials Center. Mr. Burgdorf will be on hand to show tree/seed identification, and answer any questions about seed collection and storage of seeds of the other 3 species of ash trees.
  • Glenn Lamberg- (To be confirmed)- Mr. Lamberg works as American Indian Liaison for USDA NRCS Michigan.
  • Nick Reo- American Indian Liaison, Michigan State University Extension- “The Importance of Tribal and First Nation Participation in Invasive Species Science and Management.” It is critical that North American Indian communities become engaged in problem solving, policy development and collaborative management of invasive species, such as EAB. This session will focus on discussing strategies for securing tribal and first nation inclusion in intergovernmental and collaborative decision making, problem solving, co-management and policy writing teams.
  • Kelly Church- Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians- Fifth generation Black Ash basket maker. Artist- painter/photography and basket making, and birch bark biting.

Date: March 17th, 2006- EAB Conference
Time: 9 am- 5 pm
Place: Comfort Inn Banquet Center
622 Allegan Highway
Plainwell, Michigan 49080

*** There will be rooms available at a 10% discount at the Comfort Inn on a first come-first serve basis. Please mention the Emerald Ash Borer Conference. The hotel’s direct #: 269-685-4015. Reservations must be placed by February 17th to receive discounted rate.

The two largest cities North and South of Plainwell are Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Both cities have airports and many hotels located off of US 131, which is where the banquet center is located.


March 16th- Basket Making Gathering
Place: To be announced (determined by number of basket makers attending)
Time: 9am to 5pm with lunch and dinner provided

This will be a day of basket making, sharing stories, and sharing concerns and ideas about the future of Black Ash Basket Making. Interviews with basket makers and demonstrations will be video taped and put into a DVD format, to be shared with each basket maker’s tribe back home and for future generations of basket makers to come.

Place: Comfort Inn Banquet Center
622 Allegan Highway, Plainwell, MI 49080
Time: 9am to 5pm

9 to 9:30am- Intro to Symposium: Kelly Church
Opening Prayer: Community Member
Welcome Address- D.K. Sprague (Tribal Chairman, Match-E-Be-Nash- She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi- Gun Lake Tribe)
9:30 to 11:00am- Introduction to EAB workshop panel
Short presentation by each panelist
11:00 to 12 noon- Questions and answer session
Concluding remarks from panelists and moderator
12:00 to 1:00pm- Lunch Break

1:00 to 2:15pm- Introduction of Michigan Agencies working on EAB issues.
2:15 to 4:30pm- Open visits to 12-15 tables of panelists and agencies. Please visit each table and get information to take home with you about seed collection, tree identification, log storage, EAB issues, policy and decision making, seed storage, and Black Ash basket making.
4:30 to 5:00pm- Conclusion and Evaluations

The Basket Making Gathering and Conference are free.

Please confirm your registration for the EAB Conference- Protecting Black Ash Basket Making: The Threat of the Emerald Ash Borer on Native Cultural Resources, by February 28th, 2006, by emailing/mailing the following information:

  • Name(s) of those attending
  • Tribe/First Nation and/or Organization
  • Contact address
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Whether you are attending Basket Making Gathering and/or EAB Conference

Send to: artcove @ -or-

Kelly Church
P.O. Box 118
Hopkins, MI 49328.

Contact number: (269) 792-2548


Hotel Registration and Confirmation: February 17th, 2006
EAB Conference confirmation: February 28th, 2006
Late confirmation: March 6th, 2006

We hope you will be able to send at least one representative from your tribe to learn about what we have experienced with the emerald ash borer and what we can do to preserve Black Ash Basket Making for future generations. Megwetch (Thank you).

The Native Arts Program, established in 1996, provides Native artists opportunity to research the collections of museums, interact with their community and grow professionally. Through a competitive process, Native artists may apply to the Visiting Artist, Youth Mural Project or the Community Arts Symposium. Additional information may be found on the museum’s website at
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