The Happy Hooker


Bear Hooked Rug - Bright Side

Bear Hooked Rug – Bright Side

These two pictured hooked rugs were according to Fin family lore purchased from Native American artists, from nearby Sugar Island, in the first half of the 20th century, probably in the 1930s, if my recollection of the story is correct. They had been hanging in the old family cabin for decades, but because of our recent campaign against powder post beetles there, they were temporarily removed for cleaning and safekeeping. Our neighbor, Paulette, took it upon herself to research these rug’s origin. She was successful when she discovered a research paper by Adriana Greci Green. In her paper “Many Gifted Workers” – Odawa Quill Artists Participating in the Works Progress Administration [WPA], Ms. Green offers one small, but tantalizing bit of corroboration. Her paper describes the organization of and products created from depression era WPA activities. These were government activities designed to foster artwork for commercial purposes and were part of the overall Roosevelt administration’s efforts to pull the country out of the Great Depression. Her paper is devoted to porcupine quill art and is mostly about the Petoskey area, but does offer the following brief reference, “Another [WPA] unit was formed at Sugar Island near Sault Ste. Marie. Winter activities consisted mainly of hunting porcupines, tanning deer hides and making snowshoes.” This evidence is not conclusive, but it does go a long way in supporting the family’s assertion about the origin of these two rugs. I have elected to show the photographs of the backside of the rugs, because the colors on these sides are so much more vibrant than on the fronts, due to fading. The rugs are made from wool, except for the backings, which are burlap and likely came from sacks. After the photos were taken, Anne sewed a cloth loop on the back of the bear rug. Harry got a dowel for it and now it can be more easily hung and taken down again for the next bug spraying.

Indian Hooked Rug - Bright Side

Indian Hooked Rug – Bright Side

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