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)

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! 

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.

N’tolonapemk Our Relatives’ Place

Native Americans have lived on Meddybemps Lake at its outlet to the Dennys River for at least 8,600 years. The Passamaquoddy people have named this site N'tolonapemk, which in Passamaquoddy means, "Our Relatives' Place."
 
We still get a lot of inquiries about this exhibit, which was open in our main gallery November 2012 through April 2014. It told the story of N'tolonapemk through archaeological evidence and the stories and knowledge of the Passamaquoddy people. The scientific methods used by archaeologists, contrasted with traditional Passamaquoddy stories, work together to create a complete picture and a richer understanding of this important place.

N’tolonapemk is centrally located within the ancestral Passamaquoddy territory in eastern Maine and southwestern New Brunswick. This location affords easy travel by canoe to the ocean, the St. Croix River, the lakes and waterways of interior Maine and New Brunswick, and to the abundant and varied resources these settings provide.

N’tolonapemk has always been known to the Passamaquoddy people; this important place lives on today in their oral history and traditional stories. Archaeologists have known about the site since the 1960s, but only recently has its historic and scientific importance become more widely understood through archaeological research.

We'd like to share the story of N’tolonapemk again, as seen through archaeology and the stories and knowledge of the Passamaquoddy people.

2015 Abbe Field School in photos

It was a perfect week for the 24th annual Abbe Museum Field School. Not just because of the weather, but lots of amazing items were uncovered: a variety of pottery, stone and bone tools, food bone remains, and one of the spears found was in immaculate condition.

Participants worked

with Maine State Archaeologist Dr. Arthur Spiess on the Tranquility Farm coastal shell midden site, and conducted excavations, practiced mapping the site, and learned about the analysis of artifacts. Now begins the process of cleaning, cataloging, and preserving the important findings from this year’s dig and making them available for research and education.

2015 Abbe Field School

The 2015 Abbe Field School kicked off on Sunday, August 2, offering a first-hand experience in an archaeological dig. This year's dig is excavating the Tranquility Farm Site, first explored by the Abbe Museum in the 1930s, and again during a series of field school excavations in the 1990s.

This year's excavations will build on previous exciting discoveries from the farm's site, which include a house floor and hearth feature with a radiocarbon date of 1240 ± 70 BP; the identification of burned plant remains from the hearth including raspberry, chenopodium, smartweed, wild rye and dewberry; and an assemblage of dentate-stamped pottery assigned to the Middle Ceramic Period, 2,100 - 800 years ago.

Fieldwork is complemented by lab sessions and lectures that give participants a broad understanding of archaeology and Maine's Native American heritage.

Dave Halliwell and Tim Spahr checking their paperwork.

Field School participants, Doug Sharpe and Anju Roy, examine their screen.

Abbe Museum Educator Jen Heindel uncovered some impressive pot shards on her first day!

Some participants get more into their work than others. Mary Ellen Sharp is learning what happens when you scratch your face while digging. She beats out Team Supervisor Kate Pontbriand (far left), who was our dirtiest face winner last year.

Michele Kirchner found a gem of a spear point on Day 2.

Tess Lichtmam consults with field school super volunteer Dee Lustusky on what she is uncovering.

Kate Pontbriand, field supervisor-in-training, consults with Art Spiess about the stratigraphy in the pit she is overseeing.

Kate Pontbriand shared her various archaeological field experiences with participants on Day 3.