Celebrate 250! Community Dinner

Last night I spoke during a variety show that launched a year long celebration of the 250th anniversary of Somes and Richardson sailing into Somes Sound and settling in the area. The event was organized by dedicated volunteers from the Mount Desert Island Historical Society, and many other Island non-profit groups and area residents. It was a great event, with over 300 people in attendance- going to show that there really are people living here in the winter, and we're looking for fun things to do! Here are some highlights from my talk:

- Concepts of land ownership are cultural. Wabanaki people practiced shared use of land and resources, and initially, they agreed to share these resources with Europeans. Europeans wanted individual title to land for exclusive use - thus conflict ensued. There are many other, and more complex reasons, why conflict over land occurred, but the realization that land ownership is cultural can help us understand history in new ways.

- We have archaeological evidence that Native people were living on the coast during the winter and the summer. Generally, people have believed that Native people were living on the coast in the summer and moving inland for the winter. This is certainly true after European contact, but evidence from the hinges of clam shells says otherwise. Clam shell hinges grow rings like trees, two each year, one in the summer and one in the winter. By looking at these rings, we can tell when the clams were harvested- and many were collected and processed in the winter.

- There are historic records that also indicate winter habitation by Wabanaki people on Mount Desert Island. In the 1840s, Adelma Somes wrote in her journals of Penobscot encampments on many of the fresh water ponds and lakes on the Island, and that in the winter the tribe put on performances for the residents that were well attended. Her diary, and more information about this relationship, will be explored in our new exhibit Indians and Rusticators which opens July 8, 2011.

Hope to see you all at the Abbe- our next program is Thursday January 20 from 12:00-1:00- a brown bag lunch and learn series on sovereignty- for more information go to our website calendar of events at www.abbemuseum.org.