Maine Museum Preserves Wabanaki Birchbark Canoe

brunswick maine wabanaki birchbark canoe

One of the oldest-known Native American birch-bark canoes will go on display at a Maine historical society museum, possibly as early as this fall, after spending three decades in a barn. Carbon dating by the Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick shows the Wabanaki canoe was likely made sometime between 1729 and 1789. Museum records date the canoe to the mid-1700s.

The Wabanaki Confederacy is a group of Native American nations who lived primarily in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and parts of Atlantic Canada.

Larissa Vigue Picard, the historical society’s executive director, says the Wabanaki artifact is “priceless” and could be the oldest birch-bark canoe in existence. Native Americans have been making these canoes for 3,000 years. But only a few of the earliest ones still exist because birch bark is so fragile, says Laurie LaBar, chief curator of history and decorative arts at the Maine State Museum in Augusta.

The Pejepscot Historical Society came in possession of the 16-foot-long canoe in 1889. Museum officials say it was donated to the organization after being passed down through generations in the family of William Barnes, a sea captain from Harpswell, who received the canoe as a gift from a tribe. It’s spent the last three decades in a barn behind the museum, exposed to extreme temperatures and humidity, but is in relatively good shape.

Built by standards of the 1700s, it was held together with wooden pegs instead of nails or other modern fasteners brought to America by Europeans, according to the historical society’s Stephanie Ruddock. The canoes were popular with early explorers because they were much lighter than dugout canoes made from tree trunks, and could be carried.

A craftsman in Wellington will restore the 18th century vessel before it goes on display, situated in a specially crafted cradle.

Read the original article in The Maine Edge.

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Wabanaki Confederacy 2017 at Kejimkujik Mi’kmaki

hugh akagi paasamaquoddy wabananaki confederacy 2017

Hugh Akagi thought about the future of the Wabanaki Confederacy while the partial eclipse was happening Monday afternoon.

The chief of the Passamaquoddy people in Canada had travelled from his home in St. Andrews, N.B. to Kejimkujik National Park near Maitland Bridge, N.S., to take part in the Wabanaki Confederacy’s four-day annual summer gathering.

Akagi and 40 other Indigenous people gathered at the national park Monday afternoon to take part in a traditional ceremony to light the sacred fire to start the confederacy’s event. They all watched as several people spent nearly an hour trying to light the fire with a single flint during the partial eclipse.

“I’m thinking the fire needs to come to life, the confederacy needs to come back to life,” Akagi explained following the ceremony.

“The confederacy has gone through some pretty dark years, pretty rough times as every individual tribe, every Native person has,” he said.

“How do we rekindle that fire, how to bring it to life? How do we bring back the songs?” he asked.

Read the full story from kukukwes.com.

Alton Gas: Elnu Abenaki Support for Sipekne’katik, Mi’kmaki

elnu-letter-sipeknekatik-mikmaki

Elnu Tribe of Abenaki has confirmed its support for the Mi’maki community at Sipekne’katik on the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia, as they stand in solidarity against the Alton Gas salt cavern storage project. A letter has been sent to the Grandmothers expressing unity and understanding, and upholding the shared responsibilities of the Wabanakiak in their homelands, N’dakinna.

See this post for more background.

Wabanaki Recall Victims of 1724 Maine Massacre

butch philips penobscot elder

Whether it’s by canoe, on foot or in his pickup truck, Butch Phillips always returns to The Pines park each year for a special remembrance. Phillips, 76, is a member of the Penobscot Nation whose ancestors were killed in an Aug. 22, 1724 massacre near the confluence of the Sandy and Kennebec rivers when British soldiers attacked an Abenaki Indian village in a fight to take over the land.

The surviving Abenaki fled, many of them going to live with the Penobscot or the Odanak Indians, and today that is how some of their descendants choose to return to the area where they were killed. For about the last 20 years, members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, an alliance of five Native American nations including the Abenaki and the Penobscot, have returned to the site at The Pines to honor and remember their ancestors.

Story at the Portland Press Herald.

Abbe Museum’s Exhibition Tells Difficult Native Stories

abbe museum birchbark container

If nothing else, Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko wants people who visit the Abbe Museum to leave with one piece of knowledge firmly planted forever in their brain: Native people still live in Maine.

“It’s amazing how many of our visitors don’t realize that,” the museum director said. “They’re always surprised.”

Read about how the Abbe Museum is telling its story in a new way. (via Portland Press-Herald)

Abbe Museum Launches New Strategic Plan

abbe museum bar harbor

Full story at the Mount Desert Islander

The Abbe Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to telling the story of the Wabanaki. Over 10,000 Native people currently live in Maine, and most are Wabanaki, a confederacy of nations that today consists of the four federally recognized tribes in Maine: Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Micmac and Maliseet. In addition, the Wabanaki includes several bands of the Abenaki tribe, located primarily in New Hampshire, Vermont and Quebec.

“With a mission to inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations with every visit, the Museum is trying to do more than just be a cultural and historical institution, which prompted a new vision: The Abbe Museum will reflect and realize the values of decolonization in all of its practices, working with the Wabanaki Nations to share their stories, history, and culture with a broader audience.”

Skowhegan Area Students Learn About Wabanaki Culture

john bear mitchell penobscot skowhegan wabanaki

High school students from Skowhegan, Upper Kennebec Valley and Carrabec high schools got to ‘know’ their Indian neighbors this past Thursday (Nov. 12, 2015). John Bear Mitchell, a member of the Penobscot tribe and associate director of the Wabanaki Center at the University of Maine, used storytelling and humor Thursday to teach high school students about his people and their culture, history and identity in the modern world.

Read the article at the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.