Traditional Arts

Dawn Nichols


Dawn Nichols Walden
Basketry Fiber Artist
This award was generously supported
by an Anonymous donor.


Dawn Nichols Walden is a fiber artist that approaches basket weaving through a contemporary lens. Walden, an Ojibway descendant, is a member of the Mackinac Band of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians. She was born in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in a historically preserved town with a reconstructed Ojibway village. Walden’s work incorporates sculpture, basketry, and her research of Great Lakes Ethnobotany—the study of the relationships between nature and the culture and spiritual beliefs of the Ojibway People. Her style uses plants, ancient technology, and focuses on the significance of materials and manual labor.

Walden studied Commercial Art at Ferris University in Michigan and, after college, worked for the Department of Defense and Air Force for 10 years. During that time, she intermittently studied fine art, sculpture, ethnobotany, and Native studies. Additionally, an important part of her practice is her long, independent study of ethnobotany alongside different Native peoples and guilds throughout the Northwest. Walden’s training in basketry and ethnobotany is not formal, instead her mastery of technical skills and breadth of knowledge were attained through workshops led by elders and other artisans of many different native cultures.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

  • Ties that Bind, basketry, cedar bark, cedar roots, 52 x 14 inches, 2013.
  • Restless, basketry, cedar bark, cedar roots, 14 x 48 inches, 2014.
  • Radiate, basketry, cedar bark, cedar roots, 52 x 14 inches, 2013.