Abbe Museum to Host First-Ever Kid’s Summer Camp

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The Abbe Museum is excited to announce the Abbe Museum Summer Camp, a children's day camp where highly-experienced museum staff and Wabanaki educators will oversee outdoor activities and educational opportunities for children ages 7-12. Scheduled for August 20-24, 2018, from 8 am – 3 pm, each day will be thematic with other camp activities mixed in to keep children active and engaged. 

“We’re excited to offer this one-of-a-kind learning experience that sparks the imagination while offering plenty of fun,” said the Abbe’s Curator of Education, Starr Kelly. “The Abbe is dedicated to an inclusive and active education in order to foster a lifelong passion for learning. Campers will get to be chefs, scientists, artists, botanists, storytellers, and explore the rich and exciting world of the Abbe Museum’s two locations.”

Throughout the week, segments will be dedicated to the pursuit of 12,000 years of history and culture in the Wabanaki homeland, allowing campers to work with the Museum’s educational collection as well as go on scavenger hunts and respond to art made by Wabanaki students.

One day will celebrate Wabanaki storytelling traditions with a storyteller who will share stories the way they were meant to be shared: orally and within a community of people. Each camper will have the opportunity to create their own story and represent it visually, and all of the stories will be shared on the Abbe’s social media platforms. 

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The Museum will delve into Wabanaki perspectives of science and environment by going on a hike inside Acadia National Park. Campers will learn to identify important plants that Wabanaki people harvest and use and will also learn about Indigenous foods of the Americas, participating in hands-on cooking experiences where they will even get to try some Native-inspired recipes. Campers will even get to produce and script their very own cooking segment. 

A day centered on the arts and the importance of traditions and expression will teach campers about traditional Wabanaki art forms, giving them the opportunity to make their very own masterpiece. They will get to handle items from the Museum’s collections as they learn more about the artists who made them. 

Camp runs from August 20- 24 from 8 am- 3 pm, mostly at the Museum’s downtown Bar Harbor location at 26 Mount Desert St. The cost to attend is $200 for the week and the extended day program until 5 pm is $88 for the full week or $22 per day. To apply, please visit www.abbemuseum.org/programs and fill out a registration form and return it by May 15, 2018. Space is limited.

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. 

This exhibit is made possible by the generous support from the following:

Anonymous
Anonymous Foundation
Bangor Savings Bank Foundation
Fisher Charitable Foundation
Hattie A. and Fred C. Lynam Trust
Mr. and Mrs. Douglas and Ann Sharpe

The Abbe Museum's 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.

Who Was Here First?

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By Bill Haviland, Abbe Museum Trustee
Previously published by Island Ad-Vantages, April 17, 2008

A question frequently asked of me is: Who were the original inhabitants of the Deer Isle region? The answer is a people who called themselves Etchemins (skicin in Passamaquoddy), meaning “real people” as opposed to animals, monsters, and other people. Their homeland, which stretched from the Kennebec to the Saint John River they called Ketakamigwa, meaning “the big land on the sea coast.” West of them lived a people the French called Armouchiquise, from the Etchemin word meaning “dog people.” Included among them were the Abenakis (“dawn land people”), whose homeland extended from the Kennebec to the Merrimack River, and west to Lake Champlain. Their name for themselves was Alnambak, meaning “real people”: the name Abenaki is what Indians living in Quebec called them.

North and east of the Etchemins lived people the French called Souriquois, known today as Mi’kmaqs (meaning “kin friends”). Their original name for themselves was U’nu’k meaning - guess what? - "humans” or “people.”

All these people spoke closely related languages and had long traded with one another. Animal hides and copper from mines in Nova Scotia were exchanged for corn and beans grown by the Abenakis. This peaceful exchange was upset in the sixteenth century with the arrival of the French in Mi’kmaq country. Redirecting their trade to these newcomers (called wenuj meaning “who is that?”) the Mi’kmaqs gained access to guns and sailing vessels, allowing them to raid their neighbors along the coast for the things they had earlier obtained through trade. Allied with them in this raiding were the Etchemins living east of Schoodic, who are known today as Passamaquoddys (“people of the pollack plenty place”) and Maliseets (or wolastoqiyik, "people of the beautiful river"). Collectively, these people were called Tarrentines (“traders”) by the English.

To defend themselves against these raiders from Downeast, the western Etchemins entered into an alliance with the Abenakis living between the Kennebec and Cape Neddick. Known as the Mawooshen Confederacy, the name means “band of people walking or acting together.” It was headed by a grand chief named Bashabas, whose headquarters was up the Penobscot River at the mouth of the Kenduskeag Stream. As was the custom when referring to people or things of exceptional prominence, he was often referred to as “The Bashabas.”

Disaster befell the Mawooshen Confederacy in 1615 when Mi’kmaq raiders managed to kill Bashabas. On top of this came “the great dying,” an epidemic that killed up to 90 percent of coastal populations. To replenish their numbers, the local Etchemins encouraged their surviving Abenaki allies, who were under pressure from the growth of English colonies to the south, to join their communities. It is these descendants of the old Mawooshen Confederacy who became known as Penobscots. Eventually, the Abenaki language became dominant among them, although some Etchemin words still persist today. Among the Passamaquoddy and Maliseet, by contrast, modern versions of the old Etchemin language are still spoken.

By 1700, in the face of continued pressures from the English, the Penobscots joined with other Abenakis as well as their former adversaries down east to form the Wabanaki ("dawn land”) Confederacy. On a grander scale, it represented a revival of the old Mawooshen idea. Still today, these people of northern New England and Canada’s Atlantic Provinces are collectively known as Wabanakis. 

About the Author
Dr. Bill Haviland is Professor Emeritus at the University of Vermont, where he founded the Department of Anthropology and taught for thirty-two years. He is a leader in his field and has written numerous research articles and books and lectured on such diverse topics as ancient Maya settlement patterns, social organization, skeletal remains, gender and graffiti in Tikal, and the culture history and present situation of Abenaki Indians in Vermont. Bill is now retired from teaching and continues research, writing, and lecturing from the coast of Maine. His most recent books are At the Place of the Lobsters and Crabs: Indian People and Deer Isle Maine 1605-2005 (2009) and Canoe Indians of Down East Maine (2012).

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

Abbe Museum Welcomes New Trustees

The Abbe Museum has added two new members to its Board of Trustees, bringing the total number of Trustees to 20. The new appointees, Mary Herman and Roger Milliken, assumed their new roles on October 21, 2016. Abbe Trustee William Haviland was elected to a third term earlier this year.

“Both Roger and Mary offer a state-wide perspective that we are always looking to add to boardroom conversations,” said Abbe President/CEO Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. “We really see ourselves as a state-wide educational resource and their experiences and connections will certainly help us deepen our purpose. And, for the past few years, we’ve made great strides in our efforts, adding board members from the tribal communities and from across New England.” 

Mary J. Herman serves on the University of New England Board and is a former member of the Maine Women’s Lobby and Safe Passage boards. After graduating college in the Midwest, she moved east, first to teach in Washington, DC, then to attend graduate school in Boston. In 1973, Herman moved to Calais (and then Perry) Maine where she worked in the Passamaquoddy basket store and was a teacher aide on Peter Dana Point. During this time she taught prenatal classes and eventually directed the family planning program for Downeast Health Services.

In 1981, Herman began work for The Maine Women’s Lobby. Following two years at the Lobby, she joined what was to become Cohen-Herman Associates and eventually Mary J Herman Associates, a public policy consulting lobbying and association management firm. She is married to Angus King and lives in Brunswick, Maine.

Roger Milliken is President and CEO of the Baskahegan Company, which owns and manages 120,000 acres of family forestland in eastern Maine. Baskahegan is a recognized leader in Maine’s forest products industry, known for its commitment to managing for timber while respecting the dynamics of natural systems. Baskahegan’s forest has been green-certified by the Forest Stewardship Council since 2004.

Milliken is a Director of Milliken & Co, and a Trustee of the Northern Forest Center. He and his wife Margot serve on the Advisory Board of the American Indian Institute. Roger served on the (global) Board of Directors of the Nature Conservancy from 2000-2011, chairing the board for the last three years of his term. He previously chaired the Maine Chapter of the Conservancy and the Advisory Board of the Manomet Forest Conservation Program.

The Abbe Museum Trustees also include: Ann Cox Halkett (Chair), Richard Cleary (Vice Chair), Curtis Simard (Secretary) Jeff Dalrymple (Treasurer), David Moses Bridges (Passamaquoddy), Joseph F. Cistone, Linda K. Dunn, William Haviland, Abbe Levin, Jamie Bissonette Lewey (Abenaki), Margo Lukens, Jennifer Neptune (Penobscot), Patricia DiIanni Selig, Douglas Sharpe, Chris Sockalexis (Penobscot), Sandra K. Wilcox, and Honorary Trustees Alice Wellman and Darren J. Ranco (Penobscot).

Abbe Museum will Host Return of the River Film Screening

The Abbe Museum will host an exclusive program around the documentary Return of the River on Monday, September 26, 2016, from 6-8 pm. The writer, director, and co-producer of the film, Jessica Plumb, along with Wabanaki panelists, will discuss the importance of the film as it pertains to relatable issues currently happening in Maine.

"I am particularly thrilled to share the Elwha River’s remarkable story at the Abbe Museum, because of the Museum’s commitment to contemporary Native culture in Maine,” said Plumb. “Return of the River features an unlikely success story for environmental and cultural restoration. The film follows members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, working with activists to attempt the impossible: to change the public opinion of a town and eventually the nation to bring two dams down."

Filmed over four years, Return of the River is a narrative with global ramifications, exploring the complex relationship between communities and the environment that sustains them. The Elwha River is the ancestral home of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, who witnessed firsthand the impact of two dams on the river and its legendary fish runs.

The film addresses environmental justice issues that resonate far beyond the Pacific Northwest. The Penobscot River, for example, has been home for the Penobscot Nation for generations. It is a vital part of their identity, a source of sustenance, and a place of connection and contention with outsiders since the first arrival of European explorers. Protection of the river, their ancestral home, continues to be of critical importance to the Penobscot Nation.

All Wabanaki peoples make their homes on and around rivers. The Passamaquoddy live along the St. Croix River watershed and the bays it feeds. The Maliseet, the People of the Beautiful River in their own language, live along the St. John. The Aroostook Band of Micmac live along the upper reaches of the Penobscot and St. John Rivers, while Mi’kmaq bands in Canada reach from the St. Lawrence the rivers of Nova Scotia and bays of Newfoundland.

"I grew up in Maine, and I wish that I’d had a chance to learn a complete history of my home state, now beautifully revealed at the Abbe Museum,” said Plumb. “As a filmmaker, I’ve been witness to an exceptional story in the Pacific Northwest, exploring environmental justice issues that resonate far beyond the region. It’s a special pleasure to return to Maine with this film, and to stand with Maine tribes working on river issues."

To learn more about the film, please visit www.elwhafilm.com. This program is free and open to the public and is sponsored and generously supported by the Quimby/St.Clair family. For more information, please contact the Abbe Museum at 207-288-3519 or info@abbemuseum.org.

About Jessica Plumb
Producer and writer Jessica Plumb is a filmmaker focused on the relationship between people and the places they call home. She moved to the Olympic Peninsula a decade ago, after starting her career in Boston and Beijing. Jessica directs a video production company and has produced numerous educational and promotional videos for clients. She has worked on documentary and narrative films screened at festivals in the role of editor, and behind the camera, and have created award-winning short films best described as video poetry. Her video art films have been screened in galleries throughout the United States. Jessica holds a B.A. from Yale University and an interdisciplinary MFA from Goddard College. She also studied documentary film at 911 Media in Seattle and the New School University in New York. See www.plumbproductions.com for more.  

Schoodic Institute Artist in Residence: Gina Brooks, Maliseet

Gina Brooks and Abbe Museum Director of Collections & Interpretation Julia Gray at the 2015 Native American   Festival & Basketmakers Market

Gina Brooks and Abbe Museum Director of Collections & Interpretation Julia Gray at the 2015 Native American Festival & Basketmakers Market

New this year, the Abbe Museum and Acadia National Park are partnering to offer an artist in residence program at the Schoodic Institute in order to provide more opportunities for park visitors to learn about Wabanaki history and culture.

The artist, Gina Brooks, Maliseet, works in many art forms, including pen and ink, acrylic paint, ash baskets, quillwork, moosehair embroidery, and countless more. Considering herself an artist that is informed by Wabanaki culture and tradition, Gina uses traditional knowledge and designs to create intricate, one of a kind pieces that often reflect Wabanaki oral histories. Join Gina at various times during the week to learn about her different mediums, artistic process, and cultural influence as a professional artist.

Monday, July 25

Painting Demonstration at Dorr Hall, Schoodic Institute

11 am – 3 pm

Storytelling at Schoodic Woods

7:30 – 8:30 pm

Rain Date: July 26

Tuesday, July 26

Basketmaking Demonstration at Dorr Hall, Schoodic Institute

11 am – 3 pm

Wednesday, July 27

Porcupine Quill and Moosehair Embroidery Demonstration at Nature Center Patio, Sieur de Monts Spring in Acadia National Park

11 am – 3 pm

Rain Location: Abbe Museum downtown

Wednesday, July 27

Storytelling at Schoodic Woods

7 – 8 pm

Thursday, July 28

Birchbark Etching Demonstration at Dorr Hall, Schoodic Institute

11 am – 3 pm

Friday, July 29

Pen and Ink Demonstration at Dorr Hall, Schoodic Institute

9 am – 12 pm

Location: Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park, 9 Atterbury Cir, Winter Harbor, ME 04693

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23rd Annual Native American Festival & Basketmakers Market

The Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market will celebrate 23 years on July 9, 2016, from 10 am to 4 pm at College of the Atlantic (COA). The Festival is free and open to the public and features the celebrated Native arts market, Native music, dance, storytelling, craft demonstrations, and delicious food. A collaborative partnership between the Abbe Museum, the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA), and COA, the Festival offers visitors, collectors, and gallery owners the opportunity to buy directly from the artists.

“This will be my 12th year participating in the Festival, as a jewelry vendor,” said Donna Brown, Penobscot, who attended the 2015 Festival as an Abbe Museum Wabanaki Artist Fellow. “This festival brings together a blend of creativity, culture, and sharing of knowledge that is surrounded by the joyous energy of vendors, festival organizers, volunteers, collectors of Native American art, and visitors from around the world. The support and exposure that I have received by attending this festival have greatly influenced my career as an artist, and as a result, I have been able to move forward with confidence, as well as the knowledge, that there is a great market for Native American jewelry.”

The Festival itself began in 1989 at the Abbe and moved around to several locations in town before landing at COA. The 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. This nationally renowned Indian Market features exquisite handcrafted Wabanaki ash and sweet grass baskets, wood and stone carvings, jewelry, beadwork, dolls, and other handcrafted items representing the beauty and culture of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot people of Maine and the Maritimes. For many visitors, this is a rare opportunity to meet the artists and learn about contemporary Wabanaki arts and cultures from Maine and the Maritimes.

MIBA, as part of its mission to preserve and extend the art of basketmaking within the Wabanaki communities, 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 over the 23 years it has been in Bar Harbor.

From a bow-drill fire starting demonstration to children’s storytelling to a Mosquito Dance to a Wabanaki cuisine demonstration to a regalia making demonstration to a silent auction, there is undoubtedly something for everyone at the Native American Festival. Proceeds support the non-profit teaching and apprenticeship programs of MIBA.

Parking is limited, and public transportation is available. Visitors are encouraged to use the free Island Explorer bus system which stops at COA. The grounds of the College of the Atlantic are handicap accessible.

About Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance
The Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance is a nonprofit Native American arts service organization focused on preserving and extending the art of basketmaking within Maine’s Native American community. MIBA seeks to preserve the ancient tradition of ash and sweetgrass basketmaking among the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot tribes. www.maineindianbaskets.org

Waponahki Student Art Show Alumna

Do you ever wonder if the artists featured in our Waponahki Student Art Show keep creating art once they leave the Maine Indian Education schools?

Christiana Becker, Penobscot, is a student at the University of Maine and has been using her art as a medium through which she displays and shares her culture. When she was in the eighth grade, she participated in the Abbe Museum's annual Waponahki Student Art Show with the following submission.

Hidden Warrior Spirit

Christiana R. Becker, Penobscot
Grade 8
Indian Island School

"I've always like to read fantasy books or books with swords. I like it when there is a woman who is a hero or warrior. So I drew a woman who wanted to be a warrior. She goes to one of her favorite spots to ask for guidance from her ancestors. She then sees a reflection of herself and finds she does have the spirit of a warrior. It's hidden inside her."

Fast forward to 2016 where several of Christiana’s original pieces were recently featured in the University of Maine's Senior Art Exhibit “Ghosts of Carnegie Hall." Christiana hopes observers take from her art the importance of “giving back to the Earth, being grateful, and making sure that your descendants and your people will also benefit from your actions.”

Read more about Christiana's success in a recent article posted by the Maine Journal.

Wabanaki Placenames Tour with George Neptune, Passamaquoddy

Join Museum Educator George Neptune on Friday, June 24th, from 10-11:30 am for a tour examining the history of Wabanaki People at Moneskatik. This walking tour of Bar Harbor will visit places that are significant to Wabanaki history and culture, and will include information on local Wabanaki placenames, traditional songs, and creation stories. Traditional knowledge and shared history combine to create a tour experience that is engaging for audiences of all ages.

Cost is $10 for members, $20 for non-members. Children under 10 are free. Not a member?

Sign up here. Please contact the Abbe at 207-288-3519 to reserve your spot today!

Please note: this is a walking tour around Bar Harbor, so comfortable shoes and cool attire are recommended. There will be at least two opportunities along the way to sit and rest for a few moments.

Native American Culture is Thriving in Maine

“Are there really Native Americans living in

Maine today?”

This is one of the most frequently asked questions from our visitors.

Of the more than five million Native people living in the U.S., approximately 10,000 call Maine home. Most are Wabanaki—a confederacy of Nations that today consists of the four federally recognized tribes in Maine: Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Micmac, and Maliseet. The Wabanaki also includes several bands of the Abenaki tribe, located primarily in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Quebec.

Education changes everything. And at the Abbe Museum, in Bar Harbor, Maine, education is at the center of what we do—every single day. Our 30,000 guests experience a different kind of engagement that includes aesthetic, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual exploration and meaning-making.

They leave the Museum knowing that Native American culture is thriving in Maine.  

Your support is the only way we can accomplish all that we do.

Your support this spring will help change lives by providing cultural experiences that inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations. 

For as little as $30, you can directly impact our ability to offer life-changing experiences!

From all of us at the Abbe Museum, thank you for believing in what we do!

May is Member Appreciation Month at the Abbe!

This May, we celebrate your support as a member with month-long perks when you present your current membership card.

  • 15-25% discount on Museum Shop purchases May 9th - 13th (restrictions apply)
  • Receive a $10 discount on all gift membership purchases
  • Visit either of our locations (downtown Bar Harbor or Sieur de Monts in Acadia National Park) for an exciting opportunity to enter a members-only drawing for two tickets to the Abbe Backyard Bash on September 10, 2016
  • Use the hashtag #AbbeMember on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for a chance to win a Wabanaki made basket from our gift shop
  • Relax in the members-only lounge and enjoy free WiFi and light refreshments
  • Bring along friends and family to enjoy reduced Abbe admission tickets: $3 for adults and $2 for children (max of four tickets total for the entire month)
  • Enjoy a member appreciation Wabanaki Placenames Tour on Friday, May 20th at 2pm. This walking tour of Bar Harbor will visit places that are significant to Wabanaki history and culture, and will include information on local Wabanaki placenames, traditional songs, and creation stories.

Not a member? Sign up or renew online today!

Your generous support enables the Museum to present outstanding exhibitions, preserve our permanent collections, and provide enriching programs for our community – we love our members!

Education Changes Everything

Have you ever had a learning experience completely change your life? 

Education changes everything. And at the Abbe Museum, education is at the center of what we do, every single day. Your support has helped us change the way our guests visit the Museum. Take twelve-year-old Clara's experience, for example:

"I went home and told my parents about everything I learned during my school's field trip to the Museum. The cool part was that they didn't know a lot about the Wabanaki people, and in a way, I became the teacher. Kids my age really need to learn the truth about Native Americans. I know I will never forget that day at the Abbe."

Thanks to our supporters, the 3,000 students who visit the Museum experience a different kind of engagement that includes aesthetic, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual exploration and meaning-making. They leave the Abbe knowing that Native culture is thriving in Maine. In 2015, we delivered 105 programs at the Abbe and 82 programs outside the Museum, influencing 6,677 individuals. We collaborated with Acadia National Park and presented 13 programs that drew a total of 3,191 visitors.

Your support is the only way we can accomplish all that we do.

Your support this spring will help change lives by providing cultural experiences that inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations. For as little as $30, you can directly impact our ability to offer life-changing experiences to more people like Clara.

From all of us at the Abbe Museum, thank you for believing in what we do!

Campfire Storytelling with George Neptune, Passamaquoddy

Storytelling is an important part of Wabanaki culture, as stories are used to pass on the knowledge of Wabanaki traditions, history, and worldview to the next generation. Join us on Saturday, April 23rd from 7 - 8:30 pm for an evening around the campfire and listen to stories from across the Dawnland. With s’mores and hot beverages, this is a unique and intimate experience open to all ages. Please note that the terrain of the location is uneven and rocky in spots, so may not be suitable for some audience members. 

Cost: $10 for members and $20 for non-members. Children under 10 are free. To buy tickets, please contact the Abbe at 207-288-3519. Tickets will not be available for purchase the evening of the event. 

Location: Private residence at 156 Indian Point Road, Bar Harbor, Maine.

Wabanaki Artists from Maine Take Top Spots at Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market

Sarah Sockbeson, Penobscot, won Best of Division in Traditional Baskets and Best of Class in Baskets at the 58th annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market, which draws nearly 15,000 visitors and more than 600 of the nation’s most outstanding and successful American Indian artists. George Neptune, Passamaquoddy, won first place in Non-Traditional Basketry and Emma Soctomah, Passamaquoddy, won Best in Classification in Junior Division-Baskets.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a Wabanaki artist,” said Neptune, an educator at the Abbe Museum. “For several years now, we've been traveling west to the biggest Indian art markets in the world and claiming top prizes in the basketry divisions at every market. This year, I won my first blue ribbon at the Heard Museum and I was beyond excited to have won with a piece that is so representative of my style as an artist. I hope it will inspire other Wabanaki people, especially youth, to take pride in our culture and practice our traditions—because when you do, beautiful things happen.”

Sockbeson apprenticed with Jennifer Neptune, Penobscot, in 2004 and learned the history, techniques, and art that has become modern Native basketry. Soon thereafter, museums and collectors across the country began to recognize her incredible talent. Her unique style incorporates many different elements of traditional Wabanaki technique and she combines that with innovative colors to create a fresh, new approach to a timeless and beautiful art form.

Neptune has been making baskets since he was four years old. At the age of seven, he wove his first basket by himself and has continued weaving through the years, fine-tuning his skills and attention to detail. His baskets now take on a sculptural element that is unique to his style, often featuring woven flowers, the signature of his family’s work. Twigs, woven birds, and other creatures are also used to create baskets that are truly one of a kind. At twenty years old, he was awarded the title of Master Basketmaker by the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, making him the youngest person to ever receive the title.

“It made me feel really good to win Best of Classification, and it made me feel like I can do a lot better and go further with my basket career,” said 12-year-old Soctomah. “My friends were really surprised how far you can go with making baskets, and where you can go. They all congratulated me when I got home. I'm really excited to go to Santa Fe Indian Market this summer and hopefully back to the Heard next year.”

Soctomah is one of the youngest basketmakers in the Wabanaki tribes and began weaving with her brother, George Neptune, at five years old. Now her brother's formal apprentice, Soctomah has already received national recognition for her work. At nine years old, she was one of the 2013 recipients of the SWAIA Youth Fellowship and was featured in Native Peoples Magazine. In 2015, Soctomah was one of the first artists to receive an Abbe Museum Wabanaki Artist Fellowship.

Other Wabanaki artists invited to attend the fair were Abbe Museum Trustees Jennifer Neptune, Penobscot and David Moses Bridges, Passamaquoddy, Molly Neptune Parker, Passamaquoddy, Jeremy Frey, Passamaquoddy, Gal Tomah, Passamaquoddy, and Theresa Secord, Penobscot. A complete list of winners can be found at http://heard.org/event/fair-2016/.

People of the First Light Photo Contest

The Abbe Museum is currently in the process of installing our new, permanent exhibit, People of the First Light, and we're in search of some stunning photos in and around Maine to use in specific sections of the exhibit. Do you have any photos of Maine's natural landscapes, animals, or plants? Or of Mount Katahdin, Moosehead Lake, Mount Kineo, Mount Desert Island, Penobscot Bay, Downeast coast, or Aroostook County? If so, please consider submitting them to our People of the First Light Photo Contest, which begins February 24, and ends March 7, 2016, at 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST).

The contest is open to anyone of any age, including Abbe Museum staff and trustees. Any photos chosen as finalists may be included in our permanent exhibit, People of the First Light, in the following ways: background images, murals, and in digital interactives.

Please only submit landscape photographs in the following two categories.

All photos must be void of people:

  1. Natural Maine: Animals, plants, and landscapes specifically pertaining to the ocean, lakes, and rivers; geological or climatological features. 
  2. Travel: Locales or activities in Maine that convey a sense of place specifically in/around Mount Katahdin, Moosehead Lake, Mount Kineo, Mount Desert Island, Penobscot Bay, the Downeast coast, and Aroostook County.

Cropped photos are eligible in both categories. We do not accept digitally or otherwise enhanced or altered photos. Minor adjustments, including spotting, dodging and burning, sharpening, contrast, and slight color adjustment or the digital equivalents, are acceptable.

Entrants whose photos depict other people’s work (such as sculptures, statues, and other copyrightable works) may need to obtain a release from the rights holder and provide it to the Abbe upon request. When photographing the work of others, it must be as an object in its environment and not a full-frame close-up of another person's creation.

Photos that violate or infringe upon another person's rights, including but not limited to copyright, are not eligible. Photos that contain sexually explicit, nude, obscene, violent or other objectionable or inappropriate content, as determined by the Abbe in its sole discretion, are ineligible for all categories of this contest.

How to enter: 
By submitting an entry, each contestant agrees to the rules of the contest. Please submit high-resolution photographs to Allison Shank at allison@abbemuseum.org. When submitting your photo, please indicate the following information:

  • Name
  • Credit line (how to credit the photo)
  • Information about the photograph: what the photo is of, location, and any other important details
  • Contact information
  • Please submit a separate email for each photograph.

We do not accept photographs submitted through the postal service. We do not accept more than one contestant per e-mail address. Photographs submitted to the contest must be at least 300dpi or greater so that they can be displayed on our website and in our core exhibit, People of the First Light, without being stretched or distorted.

High-quality scans of non-digital photographs are acceptable. Digital photographs should be taken at the highest resolution possible. Photographs must be in a .jpeg, .jpg, or .png format. Files submitted may not be larger than 10 MB. We will not accept original negatives, prints, or slides.

You retain your rights to your photograph; however, by entering the contest, you grant the Abbe Museum a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce, and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or later developed, for any People of the First Light purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion of the exhibit. Any photograph reproduced will include a photographer credit and possibly a short bio. The Abbe will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such uses.

Entry deadline:
The contest begins on February 24, 2016. All entries must be received by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on March 7, 2016.

Judging:
Photo entries will be judged based on creativity, quality, originality, responsiveness to the prompt, and overall impact. Judging will be conducted by the Director of Collections & Interpretation and the Manager of Creative Services. All final photographs selected will be used in some shape or form for the core exhibit, People of the First Light, which will open to the public on May 1, 2016. The finalists will be notified by March 11, 2016, and will appear on our website in spring 2016. The Abbe will notify the finalists via the contact information provided at the time of entry. Please do not contact us about the status of entries or judging.

Conditions of Entry:
All entrants hold the Abbe Museum and their respective regents, directors, trustees, officers, employees, fellows, interns, research associates, and volunteers (the “Indemnified Parties”) harmless from and against all claims of any nature arising in connection with entrant’s participation in the contest and acceptance or use of a prize. The Indemnified Parties are not liable for any costs, damages, injuries, or other claims incurred as a result of entrants’ participation in the contest or winner’s acceptance and usage of a prize.  The Indemnified Parties are not responsible for incomplete or misdirected entries, technical or network malfunctions or failures, or causes beyond their control. Entrants are solely responsible for their entries. Entrants may not submit materials that introduce any software viruses, worms or other programs designed to damage software, hardware or telecommunications equipment or are off-topic, partisan-political, contain advertising, nudity, personal attacks or expletives, or is otherwise abusive, threatening, unlawful, harassing, discriminatory, libelous, obscene, false, sexually explicit, or that infringes on the rights of any third party.

The contest is void where prohibited or restricted by law. The Abbe Museum reserves the right to cancel the contest or modify these rules at its discretion. In the event of a dispute regarding the winners, the Abbe Museum reserves the right to award or not award the prizes in its sole discretion. The Abbe Museum reserves the right to disqualify any entrant whose entry or conduct appears in any way to: inhibit the enjoyment of others; tamper with the competition; violate these rules or other applicable law or regulation; infringe on the rights of third parties, or act in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Decisions of the Abbe Museum are final and binding.

Sponsor an art supply kit for $25 and inspire a young artist

The Abbe Museum is gearing up for our 15th annual Waponahki Student Art show, in collaboration with Maine Indian Education. This art show and artist reception always bring together a wonderful variety of art created by approximately 35 Passamaquoddy and Penobscot students from early childhood education through high school. And exciting news for this year, for the first time ever the show will also include student artwork from the Micmac and Maliseet communities in northern Maine! All the artwork will be on display in the Abbe's main gallery for six months.

As an award for having their artwork selected for this fan-favorite show, each student receives an art supply kit consisting of a few items to feed their artistic passion - sketch pads, paints, paint brushes, charcoal, pencils, pencil holders - and a framed certificate.

The Abbe Museum has been able to produce these popular kits through the support of Maine Indian Education and generous donations from community members like you. With the inclusion of Micmac and Maliseet student artists this year, your added support will make this a rewarding experience for all the young artists involved.

For just $25, you can sponsor one of these art supply kits, ensuring that each student receives an award for their creativity.

Each sponsor will have a kit named in their honor, as well as receive an invitation to the Waponahki Student Art reception held in May, which is usually a private reception reserved for students and their friends and families.

Please join us. Spread the word. Make a donation. 100% of your gift will directly fund these student art supply kits.

Abbe Museum to Make the Case for Museums on Capitol Hill

Local Museum Leaders to Join Hundreds of Citizen-Lobbyists from Across the Country Feb. 22-23

Abbe President and CEO Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. Photo by Rogier van Bakel.

Abbe Museum President and CEO, Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, and Director of Collections and Interpretation, Julia Gray, will travel to Washington, D.C. February 22-23 to petition our government and make the case for museums.

Joined by other museum leaders from Maine, Catlin-Legutko and Gray will be visiting members of Congress and their staff to make the case for federal support of America’s museums. They will be among more than 200 museum professionals and supporters from across the country participating in the eighth annual Museums Advocacy Day, organized by the American Alliance of Museums.

Catlin-Legutko and Gray are rising to the occasion to educate elected officials and inspire support for museums, at a critical time—just as Congress begins its work for the year.

“Legislators have a lot of issues on their plates, and we can’t expect them to fully appreciate the museum field unless we bring the message to their doorstep,” said Catlin-Legutko. “We want to make sure Congress knows about the indispensable work museums do, and their role as educational and economic assets.”

As the first and only Smithsonian Affiliate in the state of Maine, the Abbe Museum is trying to do more than just be a cultural and historical institution. Education is central to its mission, and with the launch of a new strategic plan this past fall, the Abbe’s mission hasn’t changed, but its vision has a new focus.

“Decolonization, which means sharing authority for the documentation and interpretation of Native culture, has been the Museum’s touchstone and guiding principle for many years,” said Catlin-Legutko. “As the only museum in the world dedicated to telling the story of the Wabanaki, we are committed to an ongoing process of better understanding Wabanaki culture, history, and values and examining and changing our practices to assure they reflect those values.”

Decolonization is an emerging concept in museum practice in the United States, and the Abbe is deeply committed to work that positively impacts the tribal communities and the museum industry. The Abbe is already a resource and a model that the museum field turns to for ideas, solutions, and strategies for comprehensive museum decolonization and the board and staff will deepen and broaden that commitment.

Abbe Museum Director of Collections and Interpretation Julia Gray. 

This is emblematic of the work museums of all types and sizes are doing nationally. According to the American Alliance of Museums, there are more than 850 million museum visits annually in the U.S.– more than the attendance at all major league sporting events combined. Museums invest more than $2 billion in educational programs each year, serving Americans of all ages and income levels, in a variety of ways. There are more than 55 million visits by schoolchildren to U.S. museums each year, and museums are among the most trusted sources of information for Americans.

Another study found that for every $1 invested in museums and other cultural organizations, over $5 is returned in tax revenues through cultural tourism and related economic activity.

Catlin-Legutko and Gray will be sharing these and other facts about museums with the Maine Congressional delegation.

“Museums are essential to communities everywhere, as part of our educational infrastructure, as economic engines, and as community assets that improve the overall quality of life,” said American Alliance of Museums President and CEO Laura L. Lott. “We feel privileged that Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko and Julia Gray will be joining us in Washington for Museums Advocacy Day. The Abbe Museum is doing extraordinary work in Bar Harbor and the members of Congress from Maine need to hear from constituents about how the Museum serves its community.”

For more information on the Abbe Museum, visit www.abbemuseum.org. For more information on museums and their impact on communities nationally, visit www.aam-us.org.

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Local Wabanaki Artist Receives National Grant

First Peoples Fund, a nonprofit that supports indigenous artists across the country, recently awarded Jason Brown, Penobscot, a jewelry artist and metalsmith from Bangor, a $5,000 business entrepreneurial grant and fellowship.    

“I’m honored that my artwork and commitment to my community have been recognized by First Peoples Fund. This grant and leadership training will help me expand my work and market, and allow me to continue to give back to my culture and community,” said Jason Brown.   

First Peoples Fund, based in Rapid City, South Dakota, focuses on community and economic development for tribal communities through support for Native artists and recently announced a roster of 27 2016 Native artist-fellows from across the country.

"We are proud to continue to grow our First Peoples Fund family of artist-entrepreneurs,” said Lori Pourier, president. “We believe that when Native artists have support and opportunities to build reliable and consistent incomes through their work, they thrive, their families thrive and whole communities thrive.”

First Peoples Fund is supported in part by The Ford Foundation, The Bush Foundation, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation, HRK Foundation, The Howe Family Foundation, Surdna Foundation, U.S.D.A Rural Business Opportunity Grant, and The Johnson Scholarship Foundation.

Founded in 1995, First Peoples Fund's mission is to honor and support the Collective Spirit® of First Peoples artists and culture bearers. For further information, or to apply for support through one of their programs, please visit www.firstpeoplesfund.org or contact First Peoples Fund at P.O. Box 2977, Rapid City, SD 57709-2977.

What Does Decolonization Mean?

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As the only museum in the world dedicated to Wabanaki art, history, and culture, the Abbe works closely with the Wabanaki Nations, sharing authority for the documentation and interpretation of Native culture. We are committed to an ongoing process of better understanding Wabanaki culture, history, and values, and with this in mind, we have a new vision for the Abbe, one that is  groundbreaking, ambitious, and thrilling:

The Abbe Museum will 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.

You might be wondering what decolonization means, orwhat it looks like in a museum setting. You’re not alone; it’s not a well-known word or practice, but it’s gaining speed and we’re proud to be a leading resource and model that the museum field turns to for ideas, solutions, and strategies for comprehensive museum decolonization.

Susan Miller, Seminole, describes decolonization as a process designed to shed and recover from the ill effects of colonization. Amy Lonetree, Ho-Chunk, states in her outstanding publication Decolonizing Museums, that “a decolonizing museum practice must involve assisting (tribal) communities in addressing the legacies of unresolved grief.”

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.

The principles of decolonization inform how the Abbe builds, understands, and exhibits its collections, and they affect who shapes and tells the stories in our galleries and programs. Decolonization is part of our governance and policy and practice, the training of all staff (including those who greet and educate visitors), and even determines what is sold in our Museum shops.

We’ve got big ideas for the future, and ourstrategic planincludes designing and installing a new core exhibit, producing the Abbe Museum Indian Market, expanding our dialogue-based programming, implementing a new and improved web presence, developing an archaeology advisory committee, and creating an online collections database. We plan to share updates, projects, and milestones on the website and blog each week, so be sure to visit often (and ask questions)!

This new plan and vision are the result of years of discussions, interviews, research, writing, and testing. The plan represents a critical transition in the history of the Abbe, and it’s a journey we’re excited to embark on!

Why I Give Back: Maria Biasin

After spending years working as an Abbe Guest Services Associate, Maria Biasin has said it was easy to fall in love with the staff, volunteers, visitors, and the Museum's mission, all of which keep her coming back now as a volunteer in her spare time. She loves meeting with visitors and hearing about what drew them to stop in for a visit, and what they may or may not know about the Wabanaki.

One of Maria's first volunteering tasks was monumental: cataloging the Museum's expansive library book collection.

"I wish more people knew of this enormous collection and took advantage of all the information it contained," she said.

One of Maria's most memorable moments at the Abbe actually came just a few weeks after starting as a member of the shop's staff. One day a gentlemen walked in and searched through the Wabanaki art on display, gathering up many pieces that piqued his interest.

"The other workers and I were giddy by how beneficial that was for the shop, and it made me think about how the Museum relies on big collectors like that to continue its educational outreach, and also continue formulating new and interesting exhibits."

Thank you, Maria, for your support, and for believing in what we do!

You can also become avolunteer or donateto the Abbe Museum. If you have any specific questions or comments, we'd love to hear from you! Contact us at info@abbemuseum.org or 207-288-3519.