Wabanaki Basketmakers: Harvesting Sweetgrass Can Be Sustainable

wabanaki maine sweetgrass

Before Europeans settled on the East Coast, the Wabanaki tribes had open access to all of Maine’s natural resources, from eels to ash, and sweetgrass to salmon.

Currently jurisdictional battles over important natural resources still simmer, but the Wabanaki nation, and a handful of other federally recognized nations around the country, are working toward harvest rights in some of the nation’s most protected areas. A pilot project underway downeast could serve as a national model.

There are few places more challenging than a Maine marsh in the depths of July, which features humid, clinging air with the odor of rotten egg, plenty of places to disappear into the brackish muck and, of course, lots of mosquitos. But something very important has enticed generations of Wabanaki to places like this each summer.

“See this right here? This is solid, this is all sweetgrass right here. All of this…Behind you there’s another batch, but over there? See…that’s mixed in,” says Gal Frey.

Read and listen to this story at Maine Public.

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Deep Time: Wabanaki Presence in the Dawnland

People of the First Light Abbe Museum

“People of the First Light,” the main exhibit at the Abbe Museum in downtown Bar Harbor, explores the history and culture of the native people who lived on Mount Desert Island for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. Photo by Dick Broom.

By the time European explorers “discovered” the coast of Maine in the early 1600s, native people already had been living here for thousands of years.

Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation dating back at least 5,000 years on and around Mount Desert Island.

Long before the first Europeans came, the native people had established “a well-adapted and fairly affluent life in their homeland surrounding present-day Acadia National Park,” wrote Julia Clark and George Neptune of the Abbe Museum of Maine Native American history and culture in Bar Harbor.

Full story at the Mount Desert Islander.

Wabanaki Tribes Receive Dept. of Interior Grant

isle au haut forest

WASHINGTON, June 10 — The U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service announced that it intends to award a $145,000 cooperative agreement to the Wabanaki Tribes of Maine for community history and archeology projects at the Isle au Haut.

The agency description of the grant states: “Specifically, the recipient will:
1) Conduct research on traditional uses of Isle au Haut by Wabanaki, including oral histories, placenames, and material culture collections, at Isle au Haut and among Wabanaki communities.
2) Conduct research and education to develop and deliver resource stewardship training for Wabanaki youth and community members about archeology, and develop and deliver training and workshops to NPS staff about stewardship of heritage resources in association with tribal communities.
3) Participate in consultation meetings with the Wabanaki tribal partners about research and education programs about the Wabanaki, in partnerships with the NPS.”

The funding opportunity number is NPS-16-NERO-0077 (CFDA 15.954).

For more information, contact Keith Zotti, 215/597-9153.

Chronicle Talks Wabanaki Culture at Bar Harbor

george neptune chronicle bar harbor

This week, WCVB5 Boston’s popular Chronicle travel journal visited Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, where the sun first rises on the US East Coast. They spoke with Passamaquoddy George Neptune at the Abbe Museum about the culture  and the People of the Dawnland, the Wabanakiak. Watch the video – Wabanaki footage at 2:30.