Abbe Museum Indian Market Kicks Off on May 18

More than 75 Native American artists and performers from 35 Nations across the U.S. and Canada will attend the inaugural Abbe Museum Indian Market (AMIM) on May 18-20, 2018, in downtown Bar Harbor. The event will also include a fashion show, film festival, storytelling, dancing, music, and other internationally acclaimed performers. 

"Choosing downtown Bar Harbor as the location for an Indian Market was definitely a strategic decision," Abbe President/CEO Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko said. "Wabanaki people and their ancestors have lived in Pesamkuk, this place we now call Mount Desert Island and Frenchman Bay, for thousands of generations."
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In what is known as the encampment period, from about 1840 to 1920, Wabanaki lived like the other residents of Maine, speaking English but retaining cultural values, language, and limited privileges. Artists and craftsmen would travel to tourist areas, like Bar Harbor, in the summer to sell baskets and other items supplementing their income. They offered guiding services and other services and performances of traditional music and dance. The purchasers were the seasonal residents known as “rusticators” – people like the Abbe Museum's founder, Dr. Abbe, and his colleagues who were drawn to the natural beauty of the Maine coast.

These summer encampments were both the tribal members’ homes and retail outlets. Bringing people together at the encampments and the market for Native baskets and other goods helped to sustain Native culture and community. When the encampment period ended, Wabanaki became largely invisible to non-Native Maine, but they continued to live in their communities, sustaining their cultures.

Small festivals are found throughout the year in Maine, but a juried Indian art show is relatively unknown in the Northeast. Award-winning Wabanaki artists like Jeremy Frey, Theresa Secord, Emma Soctomah, Geo Neptune, and Sarah Sockbeson travel out West each year to participate in the Indian Arts marketplace, and they’ve repeatedly taken top prizes. By creating this event, the Museum will shine a bright light on Wabanaki artists and deepen the economic impact of art making for tribal communities. 

image courtesy jenniferelizabethkreisberg.com

image courtesy jenniferelizabethkreisberg.com

Curator emeritus Elizabeth Weatherford from the National Museum of the American Indian is working with the Abbe Museum and Film Festival host Reel Pizza Cinerama to screen and select Indigenous films, which will be shown all three days of the event. The highly anticipated fashion show will showcase Native American fashion and accessories representing both couture and contemporary looks. 

Award-winning vocalist, composer, producer, and activist Jennifer Kreisberg, Tuscarora, will take the stage several times throughout the weekend of the Market. Kreisberg comes from four generations of Seven Singing Sisters through the maternal line and is known for fierce vocals, soaring range, and lilting, breath-taking harmonies.

The Museum will communicate more details about the Market on their website www.abbemuseum.org/indianmarket, including information about lodging, travel, and additional special events. Anyone interested in volunteering can get in touch with Jill Sawyer, associate director of advancement, at jill@abbemuseum.org or 207-288-3519. 
 

Reis Education Canoe

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The boundless impact that the Reis Education Canoe has had on Abbe Museum educational programs is one that will continue to strengthen the quality of our programs, enhance the visitor experience, and heighten awareness of Wabanaki history and culture for years to come. From the moment construction began in the courtyard of the Abbe, built by our good friends David Moses Bridges, Passamaquoddy, and Steve Cayard, visitors were captivated by its artistry, craftsmanship, and tradition. With several visitors returning daily, some had the chance to participate in construction while others were delighted to monitor its progress, and the mesmerizing qualities of this almost lost art form continue to dazzle Abbe visitors today.

The Reis Education Canoe is permanently displayed in the Orientation Gallery, making it a part of the Museum experience for each individual visitor. Regardless of whether or not a visitor decides to enter the Museum, the canoe catches their attention and provides a tangible, engaging interaction with a piece of Wabanaki culture and history. In this way, the Reis Education Canoe helps the Abbe communicate a very simple but critical message: there are Wabanaki people in Maine today, and their cultures and traditions are alive and well.

The canoe appeals to our visitors’ curiosities, making it a natural highlight within tours of our downtown location. The educational nature of this piece allows visitors to have a hands-on experience with it, which activates different styles of learning among visitors of all ages. Each school group that has visited the Abbe since the canoe was constructed has had a chance to learn about the canoe, the process and labor involved in building it, and its cultural and historical significance to Wabanaki people. Each summer, the Reis Education Canoe is featured in our Cultural Connections in the Park program series and has dazzled visitors from our Sieur de Monts location to Jordan Pond. This popular program series continually reaches between 1,500 and 3,000 people each summer. 

As much as one can say about the construction process and history of birchbark canoes, nothing truly compares to paddling one on the water. During the summer of 2014, then Abbe Educator George Neptune brought the Reis Education Canoe to Echo Lake to provide campers with a hands-on learning experience that can only be found on Mount Desert Island. After discussing the history, cultural significance, and construction process, visitors were not only able to ride in the canoe but also experience the ease of paddling it for themselves, creating a cherished memory that can never be replicated.

In 2015, Good Morning America’s Ginger Zee featured the canoe as one of her “clues” when Acadia National Park was named America’s favorite place, putting the Abbe Museum and the Reis Education Canoe at the forefront of Mount Desert Island’s most attractive features.

The canoe is currently in Portland for the 2018 Portland Museum of Art Biennial exhibit and will be on view through early June 2018.

New Exhibit Looks at a Centuries-Old Wabanaki Craft

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The Abbe Museum is excited to announce a new exhibit coming to its main gallery in April 2018, Emergence - Root Clubs of the Penobscot Nation. This exhibit celebrates a uniquely Wabanaki art form, a centuries-old craft that has frequently been dismissed by museums and academics as not “traditionally” Wabanaki. The exhibit opens on Friday, April 6, 2018, and an opening reception will be held that evening from 5-7 pm.

“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. “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.”
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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. 

Root clubs have been viewed by museums and anthropologists as “tourist art,” not “traditional” enough to warrant a place in museums. Decades of research by exhibit curators Stan Neptune and Joan Lester have built the body of evidence to show that this uniquely Wabanaki form, in fact, is very much a part of Wabanaki traditions going back centuries or more. And while new styles have been created over the years to support an economy tied to tourism, the earlier forms have continued and are still being made today.

The curators, together with team members from the Abbe, are sharing for the first time what they have learned from more than 600 extant Penobscot root clubs, many still in private collections. The exhibit will include more than 50 clubs, plus images and other artifacts to illustrate:

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  • the history and evolution of this diverse art form
  • how the root club has been and still is made
  • stories of root club carvers covering more than two centuries
  • how museum attitudes towards root clubs have shaped collections
  • and how private collectors came to value and protect these critical pieces of cultural heritage. 

As with all projects, the Abbe’s decolonizing vision is paramount with this exhibit. Through representation of this art form, based on the experience and shared knowledge of a Penobscot carver and information from Wabanaki carvers and culture-keepers over the centuries, the story of Penobscot root clubs will emerge as it should have long ago. 

The opening reception on April 6, from 5-7 pm, is open to Abbe members, donors, and sponsors. To receive an invitation, please email jill@abbemuseum.org or call 207-288-3519. Guests are invited to celebrate with curatorial staff, artists, and fellow supporters while snacking on refreshments from local eateries. 

The Abbe Museum is currently closed in order to install Emergence and will re-open on Thursday, February 1, 2018. Winter hours will be in effect through April, with the Museum open Thursdays through Saturdays, 10 am to 4 pm. The Museum is open seven days a week from May 1–October 31st every year.

Volunteer News: Hello 2018!

MIDSUMMER PHOTOS © BY ROGIER VAN BAKEL, EAGEREYEPHOTO.COM

MIDSUMMER PHOTOS © BY ROGIER VAN BAKEL, EAGEREYEPHOTO.COM

Hello, Volunteers! As we kick-off a new year, I would like to take the time to thank you all for an amazing 2017. This has been a particularly busy year for us here at the Abbe Museum  –  with exhibits going up, new & annual events to plan and produce, and tons of great new programs  –  we have definitely been living up to the term “busy season”.

And through it all, you have been right there!

Whether it’s strutting your stuff on the runway at the Abbe Midsummer or doing your best bear impression to entertain the kids at the Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market– you always go above & beyond our expectations and we could not do the amazing work that we do without you. So, THANK YOU again (and again and again) for your dedicated work and support!

So far, 2018 is shaping up to be another great year for the Museum, and I'm excited to share one event in particular with you: The Abbe Museum Indian Market (AMIM)! If you have been following us this past year you know that the Abbe Museum is set to launch its inaugural Indian Market this spring, from May 18th to 20th (mark your calendars). We want to shine a light on Wabanaki artists, working together to create a platform from which they can present their beautiful work to the world. It's bound to be one of our biggest endeavors to date and we will definitely need all hands on deck to pull it off! 

In the next couple of months keep an eye on our social media platforms where we will be highlighting roles for AMIM – let us know if a particular job catches your eye and be sure to like and share with your followers as well (the more the merrier). This is your chance to gain insight into an exciting new venture for the Abbe Museum, all while supporting an amazing group of artists. We can’t wait for you to join us!

Want to know more right now? Contact me at jill@abbemuseum.org or 207-288-3519 for a sneak peek at all the ways you can lend a hand.


Jill Sawyer is the Abbe Museum's Associate Director of Advancement. She provides advancement support for the income generating activities and daily operations of the Abbe Museum and is also responsible for building and strengthening relationships with Native artists. In 2013 she spent 3 months in Manila, Philippines, evaluating the Museo Pambata’s Mobile Library Program. This experience became the foundation for her master’s thesis, which discusses the importance of advocacy and community outreach in museums.

Abbe Staff News

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Julia Gray, director of collections and research,  has made the difficult decision to leave the Abbe Museum. After 17 years of incredible dedication, strategic thinking, and tireless support of our mission, Julia has decided to start the next chapter of her career as an independent museum consultant. 

"It is certainly with mixed emotions that I leave the Abbe after more than 17 years, and all of the challenges and accomplishments we have seen over that time," Julia said. "I have learned so much and built so many wonderful relationships, and I know that the Abbe is in a great place and headed for an exciting future. I am excited to launch a new phase in my life and reach out to connect and work with museum and public history people across the state and the region as an independent museum consultant. And I am not leaving the area - my husband John and I are well settled on the banks of the Narramissic River in Orland, and I am looking forward to spending more time there."

Julia started with the Abbe working in collections, and one of her first tasks was to move the collections from the original 1928 building to the new downtown location, which opened in 2001. She has steadily taken on greater leadership roles through the years and was most currently a member of the Leadership Team. While there are many successes on her resume, her work on the People of the First Light exhibit, leading our archaeological research and initiatives, and her skillful care and planning for our important collections have created a legacy at the Abbe.

As you can imagine, Julia's institutional knowledge will be impossible to replicate. We will miss her dedication and enthusiasm for her work and her team, and, most of all, we will miss her genuine, incredible self. Thank you, Julia, for all that you've done to make the Abbe Museum a better organization. 

Thanksgiving Truths

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One of my earliest Thanksgiving memories is from Kindergarten. I remember huddling around a craft table with my classmates, grappling for crayons and pairs of scissors that weren’t sticky with glue. The class was divided in half; each student assigned to be a pilgrim or an Indian. I was an Indian, tasked with assembling my own headdress of a wide construction paper band accented with three feathers. My only concern was that my feathers didn’t stand up straight, flopping under their own weight. I never thought to question this bizarre ritual; it was simply another game of make-believe. It was also the last time Native Americans were a part of my curriculum until my high school American History teacher tackled the French and Indian War. I now understand that, since my childhood, I’ve been an active participant in an annual tradition that simplifies, commercializes, and undermines Indigenous identity. I bet this is a common memory for many of the Islander’s readers today. And we know that it’s an activity that still happens in classrooms across the U.S. 
   
The Abbe Museum’s “Truth About Thanksgiving Program” took place on Monday, November 20, 2017, and it aimed to address the false narrative of the “First Thanksgiving,” which is pervasive in early childhood education, and has become an intrinsic part of the Thanksgiving holiday. The story of the Pilgrims meeting the Wampanoag for a peaceful meal is more legend than fact. In reality, Thanksgiving as we know it was conceptualized by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War as a means of unifying the divided nation. It was intended to be a reflection on American bounty, family, and tradition. Thanksgiving did not become an official National Holiday until 1941.

What is the harm? The “First Thanksgiving” story is taught as a parable of kindness, empathy, and overcoming differences, but it is inaccurate, simplified, and perpetuated annually by schools, books, movies, TV shows, advertisements, and decorations. There are only two brief written accounts by colonists and an oral Wampanoag account of the 1621 feast. The limited knowledge of the event allowed the dominant Eurocentric society to manipulate the story, recounting a tale of harmony, unity, and togetherness. This misrepresentation simplifies the complicated relationship between the two communities. It portrays the pilgrims as American folk heroes and romanticizes the idea of colonization, which is always a destructive act to those who are colonized. This narrative places Native Americans exclusively in the past, ignoring and erasing Indigenous survival.

As Thanksgiving has been commercialized, images of Native Americans have been used as marketing devices. We see them on cards and window clings, on commercials and in craft kits. Children dress as caricatures of Native people for school plays and activities. This perpetuates stereotypes and contributes to the continued commodification of Native culture. By addressing these difficult truths, the Abbe Museum hopes to promote conversation and ignite action. Curator of Education, Starr Kelly, explains, “it’s important to challenge preconceived notions, even when they’re popular. That’s how change happens.”

I’ll leave you with the questions that the Abbe posed at the end of the program: What makes a holiday meaningful to you? What would your Thanksgiving be like without the “First Thanksgiving” narrative? 
 

Angela Raup is the Manager of Guest Experience at the Abbe Museum. She develops learning and retail opportunities for our visitors, all within a decolonizing context and a team-based work environment. She works closely with the Curator of Education to co-develop, schedule, and deliver public educational programming, such as lectures, panels, workshops, demonstrations, films, etc. She is a Certified Interpretive Guide and enjoys utilizing elements of storytelling to create meaningful guest experiences. 

We are What we are Because of You

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From this beautiful spot in Bar Harbor, on a jagged rock reaching into the Atlantic, the Abbe Museum is redefining museum practice as we know it. And, as we celebrate our 90th year, we want to thank you for your contributions to helping us inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations with every visit.

You have made the Abbe an essential museum. How often have you visited the Abbe not necessarily because of a new exhibit or program, but because of its importance in today’s society?  We’ve spent close to a century sponsoring research and preserving precious collections, and we are now working collaboratively with Wabanaki people to teach generations of learners about Wabanaki people, culture, history, and art. Because of that work, and thanks to your support, we are the Smithsonian’s only home in Maine.

You have made the Abbe a trusted and invaluable educational resource. Museums are considered the most trustworthy source of information in America, a more reliable source of historical information than books and teachers. At the Abbe, we've created a world full of life, art, and experiences - from the past to the present and into the future. Our education programs this year have given guests a chance to hear about the Abbe’s collections policy and the responsibilities museums have to tribal communities when it comes to collections care. Visitors have had a behind the scenes look at our contemporary collections and handled objects during a white glove curated talk around thematic Wabanaki art forms. Visitors also had a chance to learn about best practices for collaborating with Native communities. The education team has sought to break down many of the physical barriers that keep visitors from interacting with more of our collections for more one-on-one learning opportunities that are deeply tied to the Museum’s mission.

You have made the Abbe a decolonizing museum. Decolonization is the process of reversing colonialism, both politically and culturally, and it involves not only recognizing Indigenous perspectives and the ongoing colonization of Indigenous nations but the devastating effects that colonialism has on Indigenous cultures. Through collaboration with Wabanaki people, the Abbe is a space that privileges Native perspective and voice, and includes the full measure of history, ensuring truth-telling. We’re a role model and mentor for decolonizing museum practices and in the past 18 months, Abbe staff has been asked to train, talk, teach, present, and offer guidance to dozens of museums, cultural organizations, and National Parks on how the Abbe is decolonizing its museum practices. Additionally, many publication requests have come in asking us to write about our decolonization initiatives and practices to benefit the wider museum field.

You have created economic opportunities for Wabanaki Artists. Mount Desert Island’s cragged shores, woodland trails, and calming lakes inspire creativity and have lured artists to this place for generations. Wabanaki people are part of this artistic tradition, dating back thousands of years on this island. During the Rusticator era (the 1840s to 1920s), Wabanaki people helped make Bar Harbor very attractive to visitors. Simultaneously making art and selling it to visitors ensured the cultural survival of many art forms. For years, Wabanaki artists have been traveling across the country to enter the Indian Arts marketplace, repeatedly taking top prizes from Sante Fe to Phoenix to Indianapolis. Informed by Wabanaki artists about the importance of creative placemaking and how it can support both Wabanaki artistry and the local community, we are introducing a three-day juried art event, the Abbe Museum Indian Market (AMIM), in downtown Bar Harbor, debuting May 18-20, 2018. By creating this event, we will shine a bright light on Wabanaki artists and deepen the economic and cultural impact of art making for tribal communities. 

You are a changemaker. You help the Abbe touch thousands of lives each and every year. From
the 3,000 schoolchildren who visit the Museum, to the more than 80 Native artists who help with projects and exhibits, to the hours spent in a car driving to the Wabanaki communities in Maine and the Maritimes, to the invaluable time spent collaborating with Wabanaki people, your help makes it possible for us to continue to change lives through learning. Every voice matters and yours has been especially powerful in telling the Abbe’s story.   

Your contributions have helped make the Abbe Museum an essential, decolonizing, economic educational resource that’s changing museum practice across the world. Your continued support today is extremely important because it provides an immediate and meaningful impact on the day-to-day operations of the Abbe, most of which are not funded by grant opportunities. Your gift effects every facet of the Museum, from the upkeep and maintenance of galleries and other museum spaces, to community and education programs, to utilities and insurance, to staff salaries. Your gift will help make an actionable impact on providing the necessary funding to fuel these continuing efforts. Help us celebrate 90 years in 2018 by hitting our annual fund goal of $100,000!  
 

DONATE TODAY

 

Artist doodle by Geo Soctomah Neptune, Passamaquoddy. Geo is a Master Basketmaker and has always believed that you do not choose a basket, that a basket actually chooses you. When Geo weaves, they try to be mindful of the fact that the piece will one day be a home for a small piece of their spirit, and that spirit will choose to go wherever it wants. 

Friends of the Collection

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A few years ago, with the help of a generous donor, the Abbe Museum launched the Friends of the Collection Fund to help us make purchases for our permanent collection. With this support, we've been able to buy baskets by important Wabanaki Master Basketmakers like Sarah Sockbeson, Jeremy Frey, and Molly Neptune Parker. And sometimes, we've also been able to respond when interesting objects are made available by auction or by an individual seller, and we've added some of these unique items to our collections from Decontie & Brown, Gina Brooks, and James Eric Francis, Sr. In all honesty, though, our biggest hope for this fund is to be able to buy art and objects that have significance to Wabanaki people and the Abbe. So often, significant pieces are difficult to buy when they are on the open market or a collector makes the purchase before we are able to raise the funds. We are in this challenging position now. 

Passamaquoddy artist, father, husband, friend, culture-keeper, and Abbe trustee David Moses Bridges passed away earlier this year. As with any creative soul, he was working until his last days. Thanks to his widow, Patricia, we have the opportunity to purchase three pieces of birchbark art for the Abbe's permanent collection. And, with the support of David's extended family, Patricia has offered this opportunity to us first as we have the largest collection of David's work in the world and it means a great deal to hold his work in the Wabanaki homeland. Considering the Abbe Museum as their first choice, David's family wants to honor his strong commitment to this institution and its process of decolonization. We have the first right of refusal on these gorgeous pieces of art and history and we would like to exercise this right with your help. 

By making a gift today, you can help us reach our fundraising goal of $9,100 before the end of 2017. You can donate by clicking the button at the bottom below and making a gift or sending a check to the Abbe with the notation "DMB purchase" in the memo. Images and detailed descriptions of these pieces are listed below.

Update
Thanks to your generosity, we have raised half of our goal of $9,100, which means we are able to purchase one of the three pieces that David's widow, Patricia, offered! Specifically, the birchbark box that David was working on at the time of his death in January 2017 (featured first below). Thank you for making this opportunity a possibility. We couldn't have done it without you!

The Friends of the Collection is an ongoing campaign, so anyone can donate at any time. Thank you for being a friend of the collection!  
 

Donate today

BIRCHBARK BOX, 2016
Birchbark, spruce root
14" diameter x 11" high
Purchase price: $4,800

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This box is the last one created by David before his death in January 2017. It remains unfinished on the lashings on the top, and yet is still so beautiful. David chose to leave the bark on this piece undecorated so that people could more fully appreciate the natural beauty of the bark.


BOX, 2014
Birchbark, spruce root
10" diameter x 8 1/2" high
Purchase price: $4,000

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This etched box so vividly reflects David's artistic hand. The double-curves are distinctive, David's own interpretation of this traditional Wabanaki symbol. It is fully decorated inside and out, with the inside of the cover and both the inside and outside of the bottom of the piece elaborately etched. This piece was included in the Peabody Essex Museum exhibit Branching Out: Trees as Art from September 2014 to September 2015.


KNIFE SHEATH, 2016
irchbark, spruce root, ash
12" long
Purchase price: $300

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In his last years, David was exploring new shapes and designs for his art pieces. In this context, he made this sheath to carry his knife, a wonderful example of how art and function come together in David's work and in Wabanaki use of birchbark. The sturdy bark is a full 1/8" thick.

Thank you for being a friend of the collection!

Launch of the Archaeological Advisory Committee

From left to right, back row: Larry Zimmerman, Gabe Hrynick, Dave Putnam, Darren Ranco, Isaac St. John, Paulette Steeves, Kristen Barnett, Lynne Dominy, Rebecca Cole-Will, Bonnie Newsom, Stephen Loring. From left to right, front row: Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, Chris Sockalexis, Jennifer Talken-Spaulding, David Goldstein, Starr Kelly, Natalie Dana, Cassandra Dana, Julia Gray, Jennifer Pictou. 

From left to right, back row: Larry Zimmerman, Gabe Hrynick, Dave Putnam, Darren Ranco, Isaac St. John, Paulette Steeves, Kristen Barnett, Lynne Dominy, Rebecca Cole-Will, Bonnie Newsom, Stephen Loring. From left to right, front row: Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, Chris Sockalexis, Jennifer Talken-Spaulding, David Goldstein, Starr Kelly, Natalie Dana, Cassandra Dana, Julia Gray, Jennifer Pictou. 


The first convening of our newly created Archaeological Advisory Committee was held earlier this week at the Museum. The group of 20 included Indigenous archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians from the Wabanaki Nations and beyond, along with non-Native archaeologists, educators, and leadership from the Abbe and the National Park Service. With the long-term goal of helping the Abbe re-envision our role in archaeology in the Wabanaki homeland, the group tackled topics from community archaeology to building capacity, from education to heritage protection, all through the lenses of decolonizing practice and Indigenous archaeologies. Members of the committee will continue to work in smaller groups to further develop and implement the ideas generated this week.

The full list of committee members is:

Patricia Ayala Rocabado, independent scholar
Kristen Barnett, Unangan, Bates College
Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, Abbe Museum
Rebecca Cole-Will, Acadia National Park
Cassandra Dana, Passamaquoddy Tribe  
Natalie Dana, Passamaquoddy Tribe
Lynne Dominy, Acadia National Park
David J. Goldstein, National Park Service
Julia Gray, Abbe Museum
Gabe Hrynick, University of New Brunswick
Starr Kelly, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Abbe Museum
Stephen Loring, Smithsonian Institution
Bonnie Newsom, Penobscot, University of Maine
Jennifer Pictou, Aroostook Band of Micmacs
David Putnam, University of Maine, Presque Isle
Darren Ranco, Penobscot, University of Maine
Chris Sockalexis, Penobscot Nation
Donald Soctomah, Passamaquoddy Tribe
Isaac St. John, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians
Paulette Steeves, First Nations Cree- Metis, Mount Allison University, New Brunswick
Jennifer Talken-Spaulding, National Park Service
Larry Zimmerman, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

On Sunday, November 5th, a panel that consisted of four of the committee members took place at the Abbe, officially kicking things off for the week. The crowd of 30 interacted with panelists about the future of archaeology and what is exciting and new in the field.

 
From left to right:Jennifer Pictou (Micmac), Chris Sockalexis (Penobscot), Starr Kelly (Algonquin), Darren Ranco (Penobscot), Paulette Steeves (First Nations Cree- Metis), Kristen Barnett (Unangan), Bonnie Newsom (Penobscot), Isaac St. John (Maliseet), Natalie Dana (Passamaquoddy), Cassandra Dana (Passamaquoddy)

From left to right:Jennifer Pictou (Micmac), Chris Sockalexis (Penobscot), Starr Kelly (Algonquin), Darren Ranco (Penobscot), Paulette Steeves (First Nations Cree- Metis), Kristen Barnett (Unangan), Bonnie Newsom (Penobscot), Isaac St. John (Maliseet), Natalie Dana (Passamaquoddy), Cassandra Dana (Passamaquoddy)

Enter for a Chance to Win a Fred Tomah Basket

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This fall the Abbe Museum Shop is celebrating baskets! And we couldn’t talk about baskets without mentioning a longtime friend of the Abbe’s: Fred Tomah. 

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Fred Tomah is a Master Basketmaker and one of the only Maliseet basketmakers in Maine. He has been making brown ash baskets for nearly 35 years, an artform that was passed down to him by his ancestors (who learned it from their ancestors). Interwoven into this long-standing history is a distinct style that makes each Fred Tomah basket uniquely his. You will definitely know a Fred basket when you see it! 

If you have always wanted to own a Fred Tomah basket, now is your chance! We are raffling off this beautiful black and white Mt. Katahdin weave basket. Tickets are available both in the shop and online – 1 for $2.00, 3 for $5.00, 7 for $10.00 – and you won’t want to miss out on adding this to your personal collection. The winner will be announced on November 1st, so grab your tickets today and support the Abbe as we change lives through learning!

This raffle has closed. The winner is Kathryn MacLeod from Falmouth, Maine! 


Jill Sawyer is the Abbe Museum's Advancement & Gallery Associate. She provides advancement support for the income generating activities and daily operations of the Abbe Museum and is also responsible for building and strengthening relationships with Native artists. In 2013 she spent 3 months in Manila, Philippines, evaluating the Museo Pambata’s Mobile Library Program. This experience became the foundation for her master’s thesis, which discusses the importance of advocacy and community outreach in museums.

Tea & Pops Archaeology Update

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If you're a fan of our Tea & Pops Archaeology program, we have some exciting news for you! This year the Abbe Museum has implemented its first ever Archaeology Advisory Committee with an impressive lineup of Native archeologists and others working in the field. To commemorate this, we are foregoing our annual Tea & Pops event in October and will instead host an Archaeology Panel with a number of experts from our committee on Sunday, November 5th at 7 pm. More details will be released soon, and don't worry, we'll revisit Tea & Pops in 2018! 

The Abbe Museum’s Archaeology Advisory Committee is part of our wider work to bring our archaeological research, collections management, and interpretation fully into a decolonizing framework. You can learn more about this new committee on our blog

So, please save the date for Sunday, November 5th at 7 pm for what will surely be an interesting panel discussion around archaeology! 

Indigenous Peoples' Day

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Indigenous Peoples' Day has been picking up steam the past few months as the city of Los Angeles adopted the holiday and, more locally, Bangor, Orono, Portland, and Brunswick all made the switch (Belfast did so back in 2015). So what is Indigenous Peoples' Day? It's a holiday to honor and celebrate Indigenous peoples and cultures of this continent. At its infancy, the holiday began as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day, observed on the second Monday in October to commemorate the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. As it has grown and been adopted by many localities, the day has turned into a celebration of Native history and culture in the Americas. 

You might be asking though, why? For the past 525 years, Native Americans have been adapting to and resisting the legacy of Columbus and colonization in our homelands. The consequences of Columbus’ arrival and his attitude and dealings with Indigenous people set in motion the foundation of the Atlantic slave trade, state-sanctioned theft, and genocide. Colonization is a violent and deliberate process of appropriating land and resources to secure wealth and power over an area of land.

Colonization is also an on-going process; celebrations of Columbus only exacerbate the colonial realities in which we live. What do we celebrate when we celebrate Columbus Day? We celebrate the deaths he caused, we celebrate colonization, and we celebrate slavery. Are these things worthy of celebration? Certainly not, as conscious citizens, it is vital to be critical and engaged in the reality of colonial celebrations that further serve a colonial purpose of re-telling history so that it is more palatable for the masses. Indigenous Peoples' Day is a way for people to become engaged in issues that affect Native communities and learn directly from those in Indian country about history, culture, and contemporary issues. 

At the Abbe, we will be hosting an impressive amount of programming to celebrate Indigenous history and culture in Maine. We are pleased to have John Dennis, Mi’kmaq, with us for the day on Monday, October 9th. He will host a hand drumming session on our front patio to kick off the celebrations, welcoming all people into our museum spaces. Later John will host a storytelling hour where he will share traditional Wabanaki stories inside the Museum. Throughout the day we will have plenty of opportunities for families to learn and have fun whether on a free People of the First Light Tour or in our Learning Lab where we will have crafts, educational touch tables, and other engaging activities. We look forward to seeing you at our downtown location on October 9th!


Starr Kelly is the Curator of Education at the Abbe Museum. She is a member of the Algonquin First Nation of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec, and has worked as a middle and high school social studies teacher and is a social justice oriented educator, developing what she refers to as a "curriculum for dignity." Her lessons and pedagogical approach put theory into practice by honoring those she teaches about while simultaneously creating an environment which is responsive to the needs of her learners and dignifies her students' lived experiences

Abbe Museum Awarded Competitive Grant for Workplace Inclusion

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The Abbe Museum has been awarded a $53,050 Museums for America: Museums Empowered grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The grant is 1 of 28 awarded to museum projects across the US – totaling more than $1.9 million – and will fund the Abbe’s project, Workplace Inclusion to Support Museum Decolonization. 

“As centers of learning and catalysts of community change, libraries and museums connect people with programs, services, collections, information, and new ideas in the arts, sciences, and humanities,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “They serve as vital spaces where people can connect with each other. IMLS is proud to support their work through our grantmaking as they inform and inspire all in their communities.”

Museums for America (MFA) is IMLS’s largest discretionary grant program for museums, supporting projects and ongoing activities that build museums' capacity to serve their communities. Museums Empowered (ME) is a special MFA initiative to provide professional development and capacity building opportunities for eligible museums. This year IMLS received 147 applications requesting $16,770,555 for Museums Empowered grants.

The Abbe’s project will include professional development and training for staff, board, and volunteers to support the Museum’s work with the Wabanaki Nations towards a decolonized approach to every aspect of its operations. An emerging concept in museum practice, decolonization is an ongoing process of sharing authority for the documentation and interpretation of Native culture. 

“The Abbe team is committed to continued learning and we have dedicated ourselves to internal examination to make sure we are an inclusive museum, focused on anti-racist strategies and initiatives,” said Abbe President/CEO Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. “As a small organization, the grant award helps us expand our bandwidth by bringing in experts to guide us and ultimately boost our strategies for the benefit of Wabanaki people and museum-goers.”

Generally speaking, museums have historically controlled their audiences’ understanding of Native people, sovereignty, and culture by leaving Native people and communities out of the planning and processes of museum practices. In the end, there was little to no consultation and collaboration with Native people on exhibits, archaeology, culture, history, fashion, food, music, placenames, burial remains, spirituality, education, and much, much more. This practice is certainly evolving, but the museum field has a long road to travel, righting these inequities of the past and planning for a collaborating present and future.

As a decolonizing museum of Wabanaki art, history, and culture, the Abbe develops policies and protocols guiding decolonizing practice. As part of the Workplace Inclusion to Support Museum Decolonization project, Museum staff members and trustees will engage in learning sessions around anti-racism and the effect of acculturation and will engage in cultural competency assessments. A museum inclusion expert will work with staff to assess inclusion from a systems perspective – people, policy, assumptions, values, and norms – and determine if they align with the museum's adopted guiding principle of decolonization. The project will provide essential resources for staff in the learning and development of workplace inclusion practices to support the broader work of decolonization.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. IMLS’s grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov. 
 

Continuing Beading Traditions

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On Tuesday, September 12th, I hosted my first raised beadwork class here at the Abbe Museum. I was excited to share this special art form with others because it's very dear to me and I've been doing it for nearly 10 years now.

Raised beadwork is a form of beading in which the beads do not lay flat against a surface but instead pucker off the material to create a three-dimensional look. This particular beading technique became very popular in Northeastern tribal communities, especially in areas close to Bar Harbor and Niagara Falls, where the tourist industry fueled a demand of skilled beadworkers to create delicate home goods and purses for Victorian visitors. Among the Haudenosaunee, raised beadwork adapted and flourished into several distinct styles and continues to be a popular beading medium for regalia and art. Other northeastern tribes, including the Algonquins and Wabanaki tribes, adopted raised beadwork in tourist hubs even though collectors, especially in the Bar Harbor area, tended to gravitate towards basketry.

As a member of the Algonquin First Nation of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec, there is a deep history between my ancestors and beadwork. We’ve always adorned our clothing and moccasins and we continue to do so today. Northeast Woodland beadwork, for example, is deeply rooted in space; it reflects the naturally occurring flora and our celestial understanding of the world. It’s a distinct style I love to share with visitors to the Museum who are not familiar with the beading traditions of this area.

During my class on the 12th, I brought out items from our collections that properly illustrate raised beadwork traditions. All the items are either Haudenosaunee or Wabanaki and demonstrate the similarities and sharing of this work, as Native peoples adapted to a cash economy based on tourism. Guests in the workshop, as well as those passing through the museum, were welcome to look at the collection items and see what a contemporary artist, like me, has done to continue the legacy of Woodland beading. Participants in the workshop were also shown step-by-step how to style their own flower using raised beadwork techniques such as a rope stitch, single and double stamen stitches, and an urchin stitch center. Through this process, the attendees have a greater understanding of the diversity and uniqueness of Northeastern beading traditions and now have their own creation to take home.

Miigwetch to my participants and all those who stopped by to learn!

 

Starr Kelly is the Curator of Education at the Abbe Museum. She is a member of the Algonquin First Nation of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec, and has worked as a middle and high school social studies teacher and is a social justice oriented educator, developing what she refers to as a "curriculum for dignity." Her lessons and pedagogical approach put theory into practice by honoring those she teaches about while simultaneously creating an environment which is responsive to the needs of her learners and dignifies her students' lived experiences

Wabanaki Artists Win Top Ribbons at Santa Fe Indian Market

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Three Wabanaki artists from Maine won a total of four ribbons at the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico on August 18, 2017. For more than six years, Wabanaki artists have won top spots at the prestigious market.  

Sarah Sockbeson, Penobscot, took first in Division B: Non-Southwest Basketry in the contemporary category. 2017 Abbe Museum Fellow Geo Neptune, Passamaquoddy, placed second in the same division. 

Gabriel Frey, Passamaquoddy, won first and honorable mention in Division B: Non-Southwest Basketry in the twined/wicker category. This was the second time in attendance for Frey, and he added to his honorable mention ribbon from last year. 

“I feel so honored and humbled by the reception my work got out west,” Frey said. “It's a pretty incredible experience, and I’m so fortunate to have been able to be there.” 

Abbe Museum President and CEO Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko and Abbe Museum Indian Market Producer Dawn Spears, Narragansett/Choctaw, attended the Market to meet with artists about the Abbe Museum Indian Market coming up in May 2018.

“Artists were enthusiastic about our market plans for Bar Harbor,” Catlin-Legutko said. “We were excited to share that applications are now available for the juried process and the deadline is September 15, 2017.”

For the past 96 years, Santa Fe Indian Market has been bringing together the most talented Native American artists from around the US. As the largest Native arts fair in the world, the market spans an entire plaza and surrounding streets and consists of a myriad of events — galas, art openings, music and experiences, fashion shows, and the much anticipated juried art show. Of the more than 1,000 artists who participated this year, seven were Wabanaki artists from the state of Maine.

Other Wabanaki artists accepted to attend the market included 2017 Abbe Museum Fellows Jeremy Frey, Passamaquoddy and Donna Brown, Penobscot, as well as Jason Brown, Penobscot, and Ganessa Frey, Penobscot.

The inaugural Abbe Museum Indian Market will be held May 18-20, 2018 in downtown Bar Harbor. More details on the Market can be found at www.abbemuseum.org/indianmarket
 

2017 Abbe Museum Fellowship Winners Announced

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The Abbe Museum is excited to announce the 2017 Wabanaki Artist Fellows: Donna Brown, Penobscot, Jeremy Frey, Passamaquoddy, and Geo Neptune, Passamaquoddy. These exceptionally creative artists – who through color, language, form, and sound – interpret the past, understand the present, and envision the future for Wabanaki people across the state of Maine. These fellowships are made possible through support from Dawnland, LLC.

“In a time when many sources of direct funding for artists has been reduced or eliminated entirely, the Abbe is proud to provide this kind of grant support for Wabanaki artists to promote and further develop their incredible talents,” said Abbe Museum President and CEO, Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. 

All three 2017 Fellows have repeatedly taken top prizes out west; however, traveling long distances to attend the Indian Arts marketplace is often a hardship that prevents more artists from entering. The Fellowships are intended to provide support for travel, lodging, and other costs associated with exhibiting at Indian art markets in Maine and New Mexico. Brown and Frey will attend the 2017 Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Santa Fe Indian Market (SWAIA) in August, and Neptune will attend several of the local markets in addition to SWAIA.

From left to right: Jeremy Frey, Geo Neptune (photo by Rogier van Bakel, www.eagereyephoto.com, and Donna Brown.

From left to right: Jeremy Frey, Geo Neptune (photo by Rogier van Bakel, www.eagereyephoto.com, and Donna Brown.

Brown, co-owner of Bangor-based jewelry studio Decontie & Brown, handcrafts jewelry and traditional beadwork made from various metals, semi-precious gemstones, and glass beads.

“The beauty of nature and my culture inspires me on a daily basis. We are fortunate to be from such beautiful territory and I always try to reflect that gratitude in my work. I also gain inspiration from our elders and ancestors. As I learn more about how they adapted to available technology and methods of creating art, it encourages me to try new techniques while complementing modern styles with traditional artwork,” she said. 

Frey, who comes from a long line of Native weavers, specializes in ash fancy baskets, a traditional form of Wabanaki weaving. His work has been featured at the Smithsonian, Museum of Art and Design in New York City, and in many other prominent museums around the country.

“Basketry is an art form that I can relate to in many ways. It is a part of my heritage, an art form that connects me to my relatives both living and passed. For me, to weave is a way of honoring my ancestors. However, it is also a way to honor future generation both through my teachings and though my personal carrying on of the art form. My work is always evolving; I try to create a newer and more elaborate version of my work each time I weave,” he said. 

Neptune has been making baskets since they were four years old and was awarded the title of Master Basketmaker at the age of twenty by the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, making them the youngest person to ever receive the title.

“I practice my art in my home community of Indian Township. As a Two-Spirit, it is my cultural responsibility to preserve traditions and pass them on to the next generation, which I have focused heavily on in the past and hope to be able to do so again, making traditional art more accessible for all Wabanaki youth,” they said.

Abbe Launches Archaeological Advisory Committee

It’s August, the time of year when the Abbe Archaeological Field School happened for many years. As many of you may know, the field school is currently on hiatus as we begin the process of finding the right place for archaeology in our decolonizing museum practices.

The Museum is beginning the process of addressing our archaeological research, collections, and interpretation through the formation of an Archaeological Advisory Committee. The Abbe Museum, in partnership with Acadia National Park, is excited to launch this new project as part of our Decolonization Initiative, and we’re working under a Cooperative Agreement to partner with the Wabanaki Nations of Maine to inspire new learning, to understand issues of stewardship of heritage resources, and to provide opportunities for co-management of research about Wabanaki history and archaeology.  

The Abbe was founded in 1926 around goals to collect, preserve, and interpret the archaeological record of the region, and we have been doing archaeological research in the Wabanaki homeland since 1928. However, like most archaeological work in North America, this was not done with any involvement with or consideration for the Wabanaki people themselves for many decades. In recent years, the Museum has begun to work more collaboratively on some aspects of our archaeological content, but as a decolonizing museum, we know that we need to do so much more.

We will bring together an outstanding group of knowledge-keepers from the Wabanaki communities and the field of archaeology to help us assess where we are, think about what role archaeological research, collections, and interpretation should have in the Wabanaki homeland, and to bring current best practices in Indigenous archaeologies to shape the future of our work at the Abbe Museum and in Acadia National Park. This group includes more than 10 Indigenous archaeologists and anthropologists, and several non-Native archaeologists who have shown a strong track record of working collaboratively with Indigenous communities. The Abbe team is very grateful to everyone who has agreed to share their time and expertise to kick off the process!

Acadia National Park resource managers will join the process, to listen and learn about issues of heritage resources stewardship, offer insights from their experiences, and collaborate with the Abbe Museum and Wabanaki Nations to protect Wabanaki archaeological resources. Wabanaki archaeologists, anthropologists, and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers from the Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy Tribe, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, and Aroostook Band of Micmacs will be members of the committee. Indigenous archaeologists from colleges and universities in New England and the Canadian Maritimes and from the National Park Service (NPS) will be joined by non-Native archaeologists and anthropologists from our region, the NPS, the Smithsonian, and beyond.

The initial on-site meeting of the Archaeological Advisory Committee will take place this November. This meeting will be followed up by virtual meetings and collaborations, both with the full committee and in smaller working groups. Our hope is to develop guiding principles, priorities, best practices, and protocols to re-envision archaeological research, collections management, and interpretation, not only at the Abbe but across the Wabanaki homeland. 
 

Julia Gray is Director of Collections & Research at the Abbe Museum. As a non-tribal museum whose work focuses on the Wabanaki (the Native people of northern New England and easternmost Canada), the Abbe is committed to a vision to 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. Gray’s work in collections management and care, exhibit development, research, and community outreach has engaged extensively with the decolonizing vision of the museum, most recently in the development of our core exhibit, People of the First Light.

Have fun and lend a hand at the Abbe Midsummer!

Photo courtesy of rogier van bakel, eager eye photography

Photo courtesy of rogier van bakel, eager eye photography

Come celebrate with us at the inaugural Abbe Midsummer on Thursday, August 3rd. The Midsummer is our biggest fundraising event of the year and your help will play a huge part in its success. Alongside directly supporting the mission of the Abbe Museum, volunteers also get to meet and hang out with fun people, see beautiful artwork, and be part of an event that is unlike any other this summer. Below is the list of tasks, each an important element in making the Midsummer AMAZING – there's definitely something on here that you would be perfect for, and we will do our best to make sure that you are assigned roles that fit your strengths and interests!


PARKING ATTENDANTS

Stationed at Conners-Emerson School, the parking attendants will help direct guests to an Oli’s Trolley pick up area. Taking turns one attendant will ride back to the museum with guests to help them get oriented, before riding back to the school. Volunteers in this role will have good energy and be able to keep guests excited about the Midsummer as they are making their way to the event.

SILENT AUCTION CREW
Working at an assigned table, Silent Auction volunteers will manage a variety of responsibilities. This includes chatting with and encouraging bidders and providing information about items and artists. You will also monitor bids and keep bid sheets organized, as well as handle any absentee bids at your station. This is a great way to interact with and have fun with our guests!

LIVE AUCTION CREW
For the Live Auction, we will need a couple volunteers to point out raised paddles and record winning bids. During the paddle raise this team will collect and organize paddles in preparation for check-out. This is your chance to get caught up in the excitement of the live auction and paddle raise!

WRAP & PACK CREW
The Wrap and Pack Crew will make sure that auction items are appropriately packaged and tagged in anticipation of the end of the evening. At check-out, this team will be responsible for monitoring the pick-up table and making sure guests get their items in a timely fashion. 

CHECK-OUT CREW
Once the event ends the Check-Out Crew will be on hand to assist guests in paying for their items/donations before they head home for the night. Check out will be divided into two sections with volunteers assisting with both regular and express check-out. Be sure to have good energy and keep guests excited until the very end of the evening.


If you're available on August 3rd from 4:00 to 10:00 pm and would like to lend a hand, contact Jill at 207-288-3519 or volunteer@abbemuseum.org. From there you will be sent a packet with more information about the Midsummer, your assignments, and the specific requirements of each task. Leading up to the Midsummer, we will be hosting an orientation/pizza night -- there you will get a sneak peek of the event, meet some of your fellow volunteers, and get to chow down on free pizza!

For a fun way to give back to your community, consider signing up to volunteer at the Abbe Midsummer today! We can't wait to work with you -- and, as always, THANK YOU for your support!


Jill Sawyer is the Abbe Museum's Advancement & Gallery Associate. She provides advancement support for the income generating activities and daily operations of the Abbe Museum and is also responsible for building and strengthening relationships with Native artists. In 2013 she spent 3 months in Manila, Philippines, evaluating the Museo Pambata’s Mobile Library Program. This experience became the foundation for her master’s thesis, which discusses the importance of advocacy and community outreach in museums.

The Abbe Midsummer Spotlights Fashion, Native Cuisine, and Wabanaki Artists

On August 3, 2017, at 5:30 pm the Abbe Museum will host an exciting new annual fundraiser in the Museum's backyard. The Abbe Midsummer, previously known as the Gathering Gala, will celebrate the importance of creative placemaking and how it supports Wabanaki artists and Native communities throughout Maine. Presented by The Abbe Midsummer Host Committee, the event consists of Native-inspired cuisine, an haute couture Wabanaki fashion show, festive live auction, and other surprises you won’t want to miss.  

"My husband Jeff and I are so excited to support The Abbe Midsummer,” said Jena Young, co-chair of the Host Committee. “We’re always looking for opportunities to support the history and culture of our community, and the mission of the Abbe does that in every way. The big payoff will be attending the event and see it all come together. The fashion show, cuisine, and atmosphere are going to be incredible!”

In its 16 years in downtown Bar Harbor, the Abbe has become a Smithsonian Affiliate, an active member of the International Coalition for the Sites of Conscience, a partner to Acadia National Park, and a committed and involved community anchor. The Abbe Midsummer attracts cultural luminaries and civic leaders, as well as renowned artists, premier collectors, and devoted patrons of the arts and culture. 

The evening kicks off with a red carpet arrival at 5:30 pm, followed by mingling outside in the Museum's one-acre backyard while perusing silent auction items that include jewelry, art, handmade and crafted items, and the Abbe's signature decorated paddles. Live music by Penobscot musicians Eric Green and Justice for the River will keep guests entertained as they help themselves to food stations serving Native-inspired cuisine like bison meatballs, fiddleheads, and fry bread courtesy of Bar Harbor Catering Company.

Photos © by Rogier van Bakel, eagereyephoto.com.

From there, guests will be treated to a themed dessert and the Decontie & Brown Fashion Show. An energetic live auction will follow, which features exquisite Native art from Wabanaki artists Gabriel Frey, Jennifer Neptune, Gina Brooks, Fred Tomah, Geo Neptune, Molly Neptune Parker, Sarah Sockbeson, Decontie & Brown, and others. The live auction will be led by auctioneer Andrew Simon of the Barn Arts Collective, who will also be the evening’s emcee. 

"The Wabanaki communities throughout Maine and Maritime Canada are world renowned for incredible basketry and to build on that, we’re offering a new narrative on cultural adornment," said Jason and Donna Brown of Decontie & Brown. "It's a distinct way to share the beauty of our tribal design and fashion sense with the world while highlighting that we are still here! We are incredibly excited to be a part of The Abbe Midsummer and are looking forward to sharing all the inspiration that we get from our ancestors...Our people were VERY fashionable!"

The majority of the auction items will be on exhibit at the Abbe Museum from now until the day of the event. They can also be viewed online at abbemuseum.org/midsummer. 

Tickets for the evening are $150 per person and $1,200 per table. To RSVP, please visit abbemuseum.org/midsummer, email the Abbe Museum at midsummer@abbemuseum.org, or call 207-288-3519. Absentee bidding and underwriting opportunities are also available for those who cannot attend. 
 

Questions Teachers Must Ask Themselves: A Reflection on Dignity

I came to the Abbe Museum as a former social justice trained educator having worked with middle and high school social studies students. I worked hard to develop my pedagogy in the classroom, constantly forcing myself and my students to look beyond the pages of our resources and ask ourselves questions. Why is this important? Whose voice are we actually listening to? Who is telling this story? Who has been silenced? One question I kept asking myself at the end of every lesson was how do I bring dignity to a society built on colonialism and slavery?

Developing a solid curriculum is essential to all good teaching. My theory behind developing curriculum for dignity is a dual intention of honoring my content and providing an environment that is responsive to the needs of my students. In a history setting, students are free to explore the lives of other people separated by time and space and grapple with questions universal to humanity. "History, in other words, is...open to the whole range of human experience" (Whelman, 55) and I can utilize this to promote my own students' dignity by legitimizing their experiences. 

You may ask how one actually creates this kind of “curriculum for dignity." In my approach to history, I think it is imperative to highlight the agency and resistance of those living under oppressive socio-political systems. I wanted my students to interrogate all of our texts that perpetuate ideas about 'passive victims.' The development of critical thinking is essential for this kind of questioning. My focus on resistance is about bringing dignity to those in our units and students alike. It is an avenue through which students see the importance of being critical citizens who vocalize their questions and concerns. 

My work in museums is not all that different than that in a classroom. I still value the reflective nature of this work and believe that museum professionals must fully form their pedagogical approaches with dignity in mind. How does our work dignify the lived experiences of Wabanaki people? How are we addressing the past transgressions of museum work which assaulted Indigenous dignity and wellbeing? These are the questions I do not fear asking my colleagues and myself because it is the heart of decolonizing work. 

I bring dignity into museum work through truth-telling and decolonizing practices such as honoring the authority the Wabanaki nations have to tell their own stories. Since starting at the Abbe, my education team has developed a dialogue program called Decolonizing Museum Practice. It is an institutionally-reflective experience for visitors to see the challenges museums, like the Abbe, must come to terms with in order to create an environment that breaks down colonial narratives and supports a Native voice and agency. I actively engage visitors in reflecting on their own experiences and biases, because learners never come to us devoid of these, and in order to push past stereotypes and static historical narratives we need to confront ourselves.

Whether my learners are in a classroom or the museum, there is a responsibility I feel I have to bring my pedagogy of dignity to all the work I do behind the scenes and out on the frontline. This ensures that I am able to create a space for deeper educational moments that push us past the comfortable and into a truthful assessment of colonialism today. 

About the Author
Starr Kelly is the Curator of Education at the Abbe Museum. She is a member of the Algonquin First Nation of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec, and has worked as a middle and high school social studies teacher and is a social justice oriented educator, developing what she refers to as a "curriculum for dignity." Her lessons and pedagogical approach put theory into practice by honoring those she teaches about while simultaneously creating an environment which is responsive to the needs of her learners and dignifies her students' lived experiences. 

Guest Blogger Series
Our Guest Blogger Series is written by members of the Abbe Museum's Board of Trustees, Native Advisory Council, Staff, and special guest authors. It is a place to talk about the Museum's mission and related topics. Interested in becoming a Guest Blogger? Contact the Abbe's Director of Advancement, Heather Anderson, for more details at heather@abbemuseum.org