Rose and Francis Cree were highly respected Ojibwe elders on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in north central North Dakota. As is the case with many elders, their lives reflect the intersection of artistic skill, tribal knowledge, and cultural authority. The Crees collaborated in making willow baskets, both collecting the materials, while Francis maked the frames from ash and Rose weaved the willows. Both were also storytellers and keepers of Ojibwe cultural knowledge.
Francis Cree (Eagle Heart) was born in 1920 or 1921. He died on 27 June 2007 aged 86. Francis Cree was a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and was of Ojibwe, Cree, and Assiniboine ancestry. He and his wife Rose were often described as "two of the handful of full-blooded Ojibwes still left" at Turtle Mountain. He and Rose were married for 64 years.
Rose Cree was born Mindimooye Ginew Ikwe in on 21 July 1921 to Thomas Machipiness and Pearl Little Boy. She died on 13th January 2004 aged 82. She attended boarding school in Fort Totten, ND. At 18, she returned home to the Turtle Mountains. She had more than 130 grandchildren and great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. She had many adopted children.
She once said in an interview, "I had seven girls, seven boys. Now these young ones, my son's kids, my daughter's kids they have kids, then their children have kids. It's four generations anyway." I guess there are plenty of Crees to carry on this line!
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