2009-02-14 / Top News

Work of Mackinac Island's Don Andress To Be Displayed at Smithsonian

By Ryan Schlehuber

Don Andress and his hand-carved walking stick were of much interest to the staff of the Museum of the American Indian, as they are not used to having donated artifacts for display presented to them in person, said Mr. Andress. (Photographs by Kate Levy) Don Andress and his hand-carved walking stick were of much interest to the staff of the Museum of the American Indian, as they are not used to having donated artifacts for display presented to them in person, said Mr. Andress. (Photographs by Kate Levy) A special walking stick crafted by Don Andress was accepted by the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., Saturday, January 31. With a small band of friends and relatives in tow, Mr. Andress, 73, in traditional Indian dress, presented the balsam walking stick to Kevin Glover, director of the Museum of the American Indian.

"He told me when I gave him the walking stick that it was the first time in a long time that someone actually brought the item to be displayed to him," said Mr. Andress. "He said usually the items are just mailed to him and then the donors show up."

Mr. Andress, a resident of Mackinac Island who goes by the nickname "Duck," says he is a descendant of Chief Mackinac, a Chippewa chief around the 1740s. Crafting the sticks is a skill passed down from generation to generation and Mr. Andress learned the skill from his grandfather, James "Big Jimmy" Perault, and greatgrandfather, Antonio Perault.

Don "Duck" Andress stands with his walking stick in front of the U.S. Capitol building. The hand-carved stick, made of balsam wood, is the first piece of artwork the Museum of the American Indian will have on display representing Native American culture in the Midwest. He presented it to the Washington, D.C., museum January 31. Don "Duck" Andress stands with his walking stick in front of the U.S. Capitol building. The hand-carved stick, made of balsam wood, is the first piece of artwork the Museum of the American Indian will have on display representing Native American culture in the Midwest. He presented it to the Washington, D.C., museum January 31. The walking stick he presented to the Smithsonian, which will be on permanent display, includes three sets of twisted limbs representing Mr. Andress' grandfather, greatgrandfather, and himself. He also carved a turtle, a symbol of Mackinac Island, and, with the help of his son, Jamie, added various-sized hand-carved wooden beads.

The stick is topped with a circular carving that symbolizes the Smithsonian.

A biography on Mr. Andress will join the walking stick in its display case.

"It was a real good experience for me, a lot of excitement," said Mr. Andress. "It was humbling to be a part of that."

Before the presentation, Mr. Andress strolled through the museum, admiring the many artifacts already on display. He was approached by several young elementary school students on tour, asking him questions about his clothing, making him feel like a celebrity.

With his walking stick repre- senting American Indians throughout the Midwest, he said the feeling is overwhelming.

"This is great not only for our Island area but for Native American tribes around here, too, because until Duck's walking stick, the museum didn't have any artifacts representing their history, their region," said Chris West of the Mackinac Island Visitors Bureau, who attended the presentation with his fiancee, Heather Distasio.

"Just being there in attendance, for me, it was overwhelming," he added.

Others who attended were Mr. Andress' son, who came with his girlfriend, Patty Caldwell, his nephew and wife, Bill and Erica Chambers, who now live in Washington, D.C., Tourism Bureau Director Mary Slevin, Kate Levy, the group's photographer, and Mr. West's brother and sister-in-law, Matt and Ruth West of Washington, D.C.

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