Black Ash or Wisqoq has always been an important part of Mi’kmaw culture. Because it is flexible, strong and easy to work with it has been used by the Mi’kmaw to make axe handles, snowshoe frames, canoe ribs and to build baskets for hundreds of years.

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The Mi’kmaq were traditionally nomadic people (travelled from place to place). This required baskets to be built to carry food and supplies from their summer encampments near the shore of lakes, rivers and the ocean to their inland camps during the winter months. At first these baskets were very simply and were made from roots and other woody fibres and resembled bags more than baskets. It wasn’t until Europeans arrived in Nova Scotia that Mi’kmaw basket makers first started making and selling splint baskets. At first they sold large work baskets used to package produce such as potatoes. Once larger industries starting taking over and people started to move into the cities, the basket makers started creating and selling fancy baskets with elaborate designs and coloured strips. They also started to make wooden flowers and other craft out of the ash to sell.
Real Photo postcard of Mi’kmaq chief Noel and his wife. Between them is a display of their baskets. Circa 1910.
A printed postcard of two Mi’kmaq children from Baie Ste-Marie, Nova Scotia. Circa 1910.
Real Photo postcard of a Mi’kmaq camp in Chester, Nova Scotia. Beautiful assortment of baskets on display. Dated 1907. Pictured right is Gold River Elder Rose Morris’s Uncle Joe Knockwood from Maine
Printed postcard of three Mi’kmaq basket makers from Chester, Nova Scotia. Circa 1905.
Wisqoq: Mi’kmaw Traditional Black Ash Basket Instructional Video (Sneak Peek)


beat (ash) into strips

make basket splints
pound ash

cast on in knitting
cast off in knitting
weave base of basket

cut strips(for basket making)
cut strips

wire a message
to call by phone


ash strip (for weaving baskets)
splint (for basket making)


(basket) hoop

Click here for the Mi’kmaw Talking Dictionary

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