A Chin Basketmaker: Craft and Wellbeing in Indianapolis

Jon Kay (Indiana University and Traditional Arts Indiana)

Uprooted from his life in Chin State, Myanmar in 2013, basketmaker Ngai Chum joined the 30,000 Chin living in Indianapolis. In 2020, Chum revived a craft he learned as a boy, and began weaving baskets for his Indiana-based community. Rather than employing rattan, however, Chum’s new containers are made from the colorful polypropylene straps used in nearby warehouses. This media-rich presentation explores how traditional practices can help older refugees forge relationships, stay engaged, and find purpose in their new home. Moving beyond heritage concerns, I probe the personal role that traditional practices play in the lives of older adults.

Part of 04-07 Minority Peoples, Expressive Culture, and Heritage in—and from—the Southeast Asian Massif, Part 4, Friday, November 03, 8:30 am–10:00 am