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Pinestraw Basket maker, Doll Maker, and Storyteller
Anna Mae Juneau, who passed away in 2001, was a member of Louisiana's Tunica-Biloxi tribe, the daughter of late chief Joseph Pierite (of the Tunica and Biloxi tribes) and Rose Jackson Pierite (Choctaw and Biloxi). She spoke both English and French.
Mrs. Juneau made baskets for about fifty years. She learned to weave river cane and honeysuckle baskets at the age of eighteen from her parents on the reservation. Her mother, in turn, had learned from her mother. "This is how we made our living," she said. She made coiled pine needle baskets, using many of the techniques learned as a child. "When I was young, our Indian people could not get jobs and we could not go to the white or black schools. They did not have schools for us Indians. We learned to make the baskets" for income.
She continued the traditional forms including lidded baskets, vases, trays, and even some newer forms. She also practiced several other crafts, Native American dollmaking, making leather moccasins, beadwork, and storytelling. She said, "Basketmaking has always been a traditional art and craft from among our tribe and other American Indians. For many years, we had many people who learned to do these things. This is no longer the case, and now it is necessary that we be careful that we do not lose these things of our ways." Her two sisters also make baskets and her late brother Joe Pierite made Indian drums.
She had also learned some of the traditional stories once told by her father who had assisted anthropologist John R. Swanton in his research on Louisiana Indians. She knew the traditional tales, ones about the turtle and the ant and the legend of the Indians' promise from the sun, but rarely performed them in public by Juneau.
Anna Mae Juneau was a member of the Louisiana Crafts Program and received a Folklife Apprenticeship grant to teach her basketmaking to apprentice Melissa Sampson. She demonstrated her art at many festivals, including the Fête du Ble in Marksville, the Louisiana Folklife Festival, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Updated Febuary 20, 2017 by Natchitoches-NSU Louisiana Folklife Center Staff