Dan Emmett with one of the two Birch-bark canoes he made for Delano and Muriel Stevenson around 1917. Photograph taken in 1952.
Courtesy of Kinsley Whittum.
Born: December 29, 1871

Died: 1953

Married: Adelaide Benedict

Children:

Dan J. Emmett, also known as Daniel Wasamimet, was an Abenaki guide who spent summers from 1909 until his death in 1953 near Hiawatha Lodge on Stony Creek Ponds.  He built birchbark canoes and sold canoes and native American crafts from an encampment near Coreys Road.  One of his canoes, built around 1928 for Anna and Avery Rockefeller, was used only on Ampersand Lake; it was donated to the Adirondack Museum in 1990.


Tupper Lake Herald, July 24, 1914

Dan Emmett working on a canoe, c. 1950
Courtesy of the Adirondack Experience
Dan Emmett, the Indian basket maker is at his old camp near Hiawatha Lodge. Jokes are sometimes heard about Irish Indians, but although Dan has a Celtic name, he is an Indian with an inherited talent for making baskets and other beautiful articles. He has been coming here for several years now, and is very popular, with the summer people.
 


Tupper Lake Herald & Adirondack Mt Press, June 24, 1929.

COREYS

D. J. Emmett of Odanak, Quebec, our basketmaker, is back at Coreys using a crutch. His leg was broken last fall, when he was struck by an automobile.


Essex County Republican, August 1, 1947

From a letter to the editor by famed hermit Noah John Rondeau, who credited Emmett with teaching him woodcraft:

...And at Coreys, we stopped for a brief visit with Mr. Dan Emmett. Mr. Emmett is French and Indian decent—is 77 years old and comes from an Indian Reservation in Canada; and for 37 years he has had a canvas set up at Coreys, where he makes baskets, balsam pillows, and many are the ornamental and useful things that he makes from ash splints, birch bark and sweet grass.

And Mr. Emmett has limited English and splendid French vocabulary. He is courteous, honest and modest; and he has unique refinement of his style.

And for 37 years, he has enjoyed utmost respect and confidence of natives and tourist about Upper Saranac Lake and where ever he goes.

His friendship and esteem of others is 100 per cent loyal.

Many have followed him to his remote hunting grounds in the wilds of Canada— and in turn they have taken him on their ranches in southern states and entertained him all winter.

And whatever the depth, or the height, like Madam Curie, he never loses his head.

He is 99 per cent poor, 100 per cent worthy; and without office or price he has unchangeable perfect quality...


Christopher AngusThe Extraordinary Adirondack Journey of Clarence Petty, pp. 23, 23 

One of these [native Americans] was Dan Emmett, an Abenaki Indian who made birch bark canoes and sold them to camp owners. "He was the only Indian I really had contact with," recalls Clarence.

His face was just like the Indian on the nickel. He was a big guy, about 230 pounds, and he stood straight as a ram. His first camp was over by the Rustic Lodge golf course. He was a jolly fellow, and he'd stick his head out when my brother and I went by and say, "How much money did you make today?" He'd give us little sweet grass baskets that he made.

Dan would cut black ash that he found in the swamp and carry it back to camp. Then he'd take a wooden mallet to it, and he'd hammer on it to separate the spring wood from the summer wood, and that's what he peeled off and used for his pack baskets. I can still hear that sound, echoing over to our house, bang, bang, bang. He also used it for the ribs in his canoes. He'd take the hammered wood down to the pond in front of Hiawatha Lodge, put stones on it, and leave it underwater for two or three weeks, until it got well soaked. Then he'd bring it up and form it into the ribs for his canoes and pack baskets. He could bend it in any direction.

Indian Dan, as he was called, spent the winters in Canada at a little village on the St. Lawrence near Sorel, Quebec. His birch bark canoes, along with his services as a guide, were highly sought after by well-todo camp owners such as the Rockefellers. Emmett is mentioned in Noah John Rondeau's diary and may have been instrumental in teaching the famous Adirondack hermit some of his woodcraft.

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