Abbe Museum to Exhibit Wabanaki Root Clubs

abbe museum root clubs emergence

A new exhibit will open in the Abbe Museum’s main gallery on Friday, April 6. An opening reception is set for 5-7 p.m.

“Unlike the ball club, which is very well known and very well published, the Penobscot root club has been almost completely ignored in the history books,” said exhibit curator Stan Neptune, Penobscot.“Emergence — Root Clubs of the Penobscot Nation” celebrates a uniquely Wabanaki art form, a centuries-old craft that has frequently been dismissed by museums and academics as not “traditionally” Wabanaki.

“In the late 19th century when anthropologists started collecting Native American objects, they perceived root clubs as just tourist items. They had no idea of the history. The ‘Emergence’ exhibit will tell that full history.”

The exhibit highlights the diversity of past and contemporary themes found in root club carving. Each club is made out of a sapling, with the slender trunk becoming a chip-carved handle, and the complex wood of the root ball’s burl transformed into evocative representations of people and creatures. Some are painted; some have ornaments attached.

Read the full coverage in the Mount Desert Islander.

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Traditional Elders’ Gathering Highlights Indigenous Culture

stthomas-nb-longhouse-elders-gathering

This weekend’s Longhouse Elders Gathering, also known as Midwinter Celebrations, brought Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together to learn about traditional Wabanaki culture.

The ceremony was held at St. Thomas University [Fredericton, New Brunswick] from Feb. 9 to 11.

Typically in Indigenous culture, the midwinter gathering lasts for a 10-day period and is an opportunity for elders to pass along traditional knowledge and cultural teachings to younger generations.

Miigam’agan, St. Thomas University’s elder in residence, said the ceremony is meant to be a time of reflection.

Read the full accounting by Sarah Petz at CBC News.

Decolonizing Museums is Forum Focus

Catlin-Legutko-Cinnamon-abbe-museum-mtdesertislander

Abbe Museum President and CEO Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko will discuss decolonizing museum practice and encouraging collaboration among indigenous peoples and the museum field at College of the Atlantic’s Human Ecology Forum in McCormick Lecture Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 4:10 p.m.

The Abbe Museum’s mission is to inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations with every visit. In August 2015, the museum completed its most ambitious strategic plan to date, committing to develop and implement decolonizing practices in a museum setting.

During her talk, Catlin-Legutko will discuss that nature of decolonizing museum practice and how it offers opportunities for Wabanaki people to feel connected to the Abbe, promote cultural authority, and encourage collaboration and involvement with and between tribal community members and the museum field. Also, she will discuss the role of the leader in a decolonizing framework, which requires power-sharing skills and a commitment to developing group and personal cultural competencies.

Read the full article in the Mount Desert Islander.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Scientists and Tribes Partner for the Black Ash Nation

emerald ash borer TEK

When Butch Jacobs steps into the woods in search of basket making materials, he does not have a specific type of forest or black ash tree in mind, but he knows it when he sees it. “It’s a unique skill set that cannot necessarily be taught. Some people just have it,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs, a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, is one of few remaining basket-tree harvesters in Maine—a longstanding tradition that stretches back to before Europeans arrived on North American shores. Now, the custom faces a threat that may devastate the trees that harvesters like Jacobs seek.

Emerald ash borer, an insect native to Asia, has barreled through ash stands in at least 31 states and three Canadian provinces since it was first documented in Michigan and Ontario in 2002. Black ash, the species basket-tree harvesters target, is especially susceptible to the invasive insect that has already decimated millions of North American , and will soon arrive in Maine.

That spells trouble for Jacobs and many others, for whom ash trees are of critical cultural and economic significance. The black ash is a central element in several Native American and First Nation traditions, including some tribes’ creation stories.

Read the full story by Erin Miller at phys.org.

Strange Events at the Vilas Bridge

Alex Stradling and Mike Smith had an idea to raise community involvement in Bellows Falls.

The two run the local television station, Falls Area Community TV, Stradling as the stations executive director and Smith as the board’s president. FACT TV teaches young and old alike how to work in the broadcast industry. The station also films local town events like Select Board meetings. Lately, however, the station has been branching out into entertainment-based shows. From religion talk shows to news, to shows examining horror, FACT TV is expanding its brand.

In November, the station debuted a fictional series. “Strange Events at the Vilas Bridge,” is a roughly 49-minute show that feels like a small movie. Only the first episode has been produced and aired, but Stradling hopes to film the next episode in spring.

Stradling said the station worked together to pair experienced actors and crews with beginners.

The first episode stars four teenagers who work together to uncover the Vilas Bridge’s supernatural past. The episode has teenagers and adults working all aspects of the production.

Read the article by Harmony Birch in the Brattleboro Reformer.

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Thoughts: This is rather disquieting… a new pilot production at Bellows Falls’ FACT TV brings Abenaki mystical mish-mash into the plot of its local supernatural suspense drama. I have doubts about the helpfulness of this approach… At 35 minutes in, the dialogue is pretty bizarre.

Bar Harbor to Host Northeast’s Biggest Native American Marketplace

Gabriel Frey Abbe Museum Market

Gabriel Frey separates each layer of ash as if he is peeling an onion. He removes one thin layer after another until he reduces what had been a formidable stick of wood into a small bundle of flexible ribbons. He then narrows each with a hand-held, handmade splitting tool, and weaves the strips seamlessly into one of his ash baskets.

Frey, a Passamaquoddy who works in the basement studio of his Orono home, is busy preparing baskets for seasonal markets in Maine and elsewhere, including several for the Smithsonian Institution, which commissioned him to make baskets for its New York gift shop. He is among a large group of American Indian artists from Maine whose reputations are growing nationally, enhanced by their successes at juried American Indian art markets across the country. For six years, Wabanaki artists from Maine have won top honors at the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico, the largest indigenous art fair in the world. Frey was among three Wabanaki artists to win ribbons at the most recent market in August, snagging a first-place award and an honorable mention.

Next spring, Frey will show his work closer to home, as the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor hosts a three-day juried American Indian art market May 18-20 in downtown Bar Harbor, creating more exposure for Indian art and artists from Maine and the Northeast. Maine is home to many small American Indian festivals and fairs – the Maine Indian Basketmakers Holiday Market held last weekend at the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine is a good example – but a large-scale juried art show that encompasses a range of arts and attracts artists and audiences from across North America is unusual if not unprecedented in the Northeast, said Abbe Museum President and Chief Executive Officer Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. Nearly all the major American Indian art fairs are in the Southwest or Northern Plains.

Maine 2017 Native American Essay Winners

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is announcing the winning entries in the 2017 Maine Native American History and Culture Essay Contest today, and congratulates all of the participating students on their accomplishments.

“The goal of this contest is to give students an outlet to show what they’ve learned about the rich history of the Wabanaki peoples of Maine,” said Secretary Dunlap. “We are thankful to the teachers who share this opportunity with their students, and hopeful that our participants will continue to build upon the knowledge they have gained through their Maine Native American history studies.”

Open to students statewide, the annual contest requires participants to explore at least one aspect of Maine Native American history and to write an essay describing what they have learned.

This year’s top contestant in the high school division is Ella Raymond, a freshman at Casco Bay High School in Portland, for her essay titled, “Authenticity, Equity, and Connectedness in Wabanaki Communities.”

At the middle school level, top honors go to Saber Hanington, a seventh-grade student at Windsor Elementary School, for his entry, “Farming of the Dawnsmen.” Second-place is awarded to Collin Joyce, a seventh-grade student at Scarborough Middle School, for his untitled essay depicting Native American resourcefulness.

Secretary Dunlap invites the first-place essayists in each category to be his guests for a day in Augusta. Students will tour the State House complex, including the Maine State Archives, where they will be able to view Maine’s original treaties with native peoples and original field books of early Maine land surveyors.

Maine law Title 20-A s4706 at http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/20-A/title20-Asec4706.html requires schools to teach Maine Native American history. This contest provides Maine students with a unique opportunity to share what they have learned in their studies. The public can view the essays online at http://www.maine.gov/sos/kids/nativeamerican/winners.htm . To learn more about this contest and other student programs offered by the Office of the Secretary of State, visit http://www.maine.gov/sos/kids/index.htm .