On July 6 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm the
annual Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market will celebratetwenty years of a collaborative partnership
between the Abbe Museum, the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA) and the
College of the Atlantic (COA). The festival itself began in 1989 at the Abbe
and moved around to several locations in town before settling at COA. The new
location on the ocean-front grounds of the college allowed the Festival to grow,
with ample space for vendors and parking for many more guests.
The Festival, which is free and open to the
public, combines the art and craft market with music, dancing, and
demonstrations.The featured attraction
is, unquestionably, the market which features basketmakers, representing all
four tribes in Maine, the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot,
collectively known as the Wabanaki.Among this group are nationally renowned contemporary and traditional
basket makers who travel to Bar Harbor to sell their work – drawing collectors
from across the country.
Artists selling high
quality baskets made from ash and sweetgrass, birch bark, and other traditional
materials, as well as jewelry, musical instruments, and other crafts, gather to
share their traditions, history, and culture with visitors. Demonstrations include dancing, drumming,
flute playing, and basketmaking, as well as ash pounding.
Girls dancing at the festival, photo by Anna Travers
has the lead role in organizing the Festival, and is responsible for bringing
in dozens of new, “next generation” basketmakers and their families to the
event.Many of these talented basketmakers
first got their start at the Festival twenty years ago.These young artists include: George Neptune,
Jeremy Frey, Sarah Sockbeson, Eric “Otter” Bacon and Ganessa Bryant.These five artists were recently featured in
an exhibit called: Transcending
Traditions, which was created through collaboration between the Hudson
Museum and MIBA and made possible by support from the National Museum of
American Indian Indigenous Contemporary Art Program; it traveled to Bar Harbor
in 2012 and was featured at the Abbe Museum.
Parking and public
transportation are available, and the grounds of the College of the Atlantic
are handicap accessible.Visitors are
encouraged to use the Island Explorer bus system which stops at COA.In addition to the festival activities, this
year a silent auction will feature works from Wabanaki artists.Proceeds support the non-profit teaching and
apprenticeship programs of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance. The festival is cosponsored by Art Works and the Bangor Daily News. We look forward to meeting you there!