The evolution of making and selling “fancy” baskets to the coastal tourist trade began to flourish in the late 19th
century and the traditional preparation and weaving continues today, as Deborah uses the same blocks, molds,
equipment and tools to shape her baskets that have been passed down to her from many earlier family
Deborah received her B.S. Degree in Human Development from University of Maine, Orono, Maine and in 2012
received her Master's Degree in Psychology from University of Phoenix in Arizona. Her native art background
includes demonstrations and teaching of basketmaking, as well as teaching the cultural history of Passamaquoddy
She has worked for the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine as the Manager for the Native Art Shop, buying
and selling baskets and has curated special exhibits, including one at the Blaine House Governor’s Mansion in
Augusta, Maine. She worked for the Downeast Heritage Museum in Calais, Maine as a Passamaquoddy cultural
history presenter, teaching about the history of Passamaquoddy basketmaking. For the Abbe Museum in Bar
Harbor, Maine, Deborah was featured in a basketmaking video that shows the construction, from start to finish, of
one of her sewing baskets with sweetgrass braid and frog handle. She has participated in many basketmaking
shows and demonstrations over the years.
In 1994, Deborah’s mother, Mary Mitchell Gabriel, received the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts Award
for her outstanding and high quality basketry. Mary’s achievement helped to raise awareness at an international
level of the exquisite quality of Passamaquoddy basketry at a time when the heritage art of this tribe was not well
known. Deborah’s mother became an important mentor and teacher for her as Deborah continued to learn the
professional construction, design and production of Passamaquoddy basketry.
Deborah has been a freelance Native art consultant since 1997, with her Native art business specializing in
traditional Passamaquoddy brown ash splint and sweetgrass basketry. She continues to be an advocate for
educating the public about Passamaquoddy cultural history and basketmaking, through shows, demonstrations
and public presentations.
Today, Deborah lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona near her two talented daughters and grandson. She continues
to weave as a contemporary basketmaker in traditional styles that incorporate rich, new designs that are timeless
in their expression. She is well known in the collectible market for her high quality traditional sweetgrass braid
sewing flats, collar baskets, bowls and workbaskets. The artistic and subtle use of braid and/or color is an
important feature of her work.
As a Native artist from a talented family, Deborah continues to keep the rich traditions of the Passamaquoddy
people alive with this heritage art form.
Maine Indian Baskets
Passamaquoddy Native American Brown Ash Splint Basketry
By Passamaquoddy Weaver, Deborah Gabriel Brooks
Deborah Brooks, Passamaquoddy Weaver
For orders: email@example.com