Continuing Beading Traditions

Starr Raised Beadwork.JPG

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

Welcome New Staff Members

We are excited to announce the arrival of two new staff members: Starr Kelly and Angela Raup. Please join us in welcoming them both to the Museum and Bar Harbor! We'll announce a few Meet and Greet dates soon that will give you all an opportunity to meet Starr and Angela and get to know them in their new roles. 

Starr Kelly is our Curator of Education. She is a member of the Algonquin First Nation of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec. After growing up in Portland, Maine, she attended Colgate University in Hamilton, NY as an undergraduate in Native American Studies. She continued her education at Colgate receiving a Masters of Teaching in 2013, focusing her studies on secondary social studies.

A Gottesman fellow, Starr created original research on the lasting intergenerational trauma caused by the boarding school era among Native peoples in the U.S. and Canada. A topic that led to her thesis work in the area of decolonization practices as a means to address the needs of Native students and foster healing from historic trauma inflicted by colonial agendas.

As a middle and high school social studies teacher, Starr is a social justice oriented educator and has developed 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. 

Starr is committed to language and cultural revitalization efforts in Indigenous communities. She is a traditional beadworker in both flat and raised beadwork mediums and enjoys hiking and live music in her spare time. 

Angela Raup is our Manager of Guest Experience. She originally hails from Smithfield, Rhode Island, but is no stranger to Mount Desert Island. She previously worked for College of the Atlantic’s Summer Field Studies Program, and for the Jordan Pond House Restaurant. After graduating from the University of Rhode Island in 2012 with a degree in Anthropology and Writing, Angela moved to Washington, DC, where she began her museum career.

Angela spent two years as an Operations Manager at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment before accepting a position as Visitor Operations Manager of the United States Capitol. Serving under the 114th Congress, Angela facilitated daily operations at the Capitol Visitor Center and provided assistance and direction at Congressional events. She is a Certified Interpretive Guide and enjoys utilizing elements of storytelling to create meaningful guest experiences. Angela loves big breakfasts, chai lattes, graphic novels, and painting.