We Must Decolonize our Museums

“Museums can be very painful sites for Native peoples, as they are intimately tied to the colonization process,” writes Ho-Chunk scholar Amy Lonetree. Reading this passage for the first time in 2012 stopped Abbe President and CEO Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko in her tracks and forced her to ask herself "How does the work I do cause another person’s pain and anguish? How dare I ignore this pain?" She can’t ignore it, and she would hope most of us can’t ignore it. But for many museum workers, this intertwined colonial history isn’t discussed or represented in their institutions.

In the following talk, recorded at TEDxDirigo in Portland, Maine on November 5, 2016, Cinnamon shares the urgency of museum decolonizing practices and describe some of the work the Abbe Museum is doing.

Tea & Pops Archaeology on October 17th

ACADIA CENTENNIAL LECTURE: Is Archaeology Still Relevant In The 21st Century?

Presented by Rebecca Cole-Will, Chief of Resource Management at Acadia National Park

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. This Act transformed the practice of archaeology and change has been rapid and existential in the discipline since then. Rebecca Cole-Will will reflect on how archaeology has evolved, the current role of archaeology in the National Park Service, and where the study of the past may lead us in the future. Tea and popovers will be served after the lecture.

Rebecca Cole-Will is the Chief of Resource Management at Acadia National Park. She has done archaeological research in Maine and the Canadian Arctic and was the curator at the Abbe Museum before joining the National Park Service. She has a BA in anthropology from the University of Maine and an MA in anthropology from the University of Alberta.

Monday, October 17, 2016, from 7-9 pm.

$20 members, $30 non-members.

For reservations, please contact the Abbe Museum at 207-288-3519 or email rsvp@abbemuseum.org.

Abbe Museum Launches Online Collections Database

The Abbe Museum, the first and only Smithsonian Affiliate in the state of Maine, is excited to announce the launch of its online collections database. The Museum’s in-house collections focus on contemporary and historic Native American art, artifacts, and objects from Maine and the Northeast, and totals more than 70,000 items. The goal is to upload all of the non-archaeological items to the database over the course of the next 12 months.

“We have been looking forward to sharing our collections online for a long time,” said Director of Collections and Interpretation Julia Gray. “With only a small portion of our collections on exhibit at any time, this gives people a chance to see so much more, and to learn about Wabanaki history and culture through art and objects from anywhere in the world. We are also excited to use this as a platform to welcome Wabanaki community input and perspectives on our collections.”

The Museum has been using PastPerfect museum software since 2000 to manage its collections, and as part of the current strategic plan, they are now using their online platform to share its collections with everyone, near and far. The database allows users to browse the collections, carry out a general keyword search, and even dig a little deeper with a more targeted advanced search. Images and detailed information about each piece are available and virtual visitors can share what they find with friends through email and social media, as well as share feedback with the Museum, directly from the website.

To start, approximately 375 of the roughly 1,800 records in the Museum’s local database have been uploaded, and more will continue to be added until all of the non-archaeological collections can be seen on the site. Work to put the archaeological collections online is scheduled to begin in 2018.

Visitors can check out everything from an etched birchbark box by Tomah Joseph that illustrates Passamaquoddy life to mid-19th century Penobscot baskets that are still vivid with indigo and other natural dyes. Intricate porcupine quill boxes created by Mi’kmaq artists during the late 1800s and some of the most outstanding work being done by Wabanaki artists today can also be viewed. Visit abbemuseum.pastperfectonline.com for more details.

The launch of the Abbe’s online collections database was made possible by the outstanding work of summer intern Katy Matthews, who spent the past several months preparing records for upload and gathering information that was missing from the database.

This project is funded by grants from the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Community Foundation.

Legendary Hawaiian Canoe to Visit Mount Desert Island on Global Voyage

Unprecedented voyage to stop in Somes Sound where crew will honor and engage in cultural exchanges with Native Americans and share about Polynesian wayfinding and sustainability efforts with Mount Desert Community

Traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a will be stopping in Mount Desert Island (MDI), as part of her leg through the New England area. This sail is part of a historic Worldwide Voyage covering more than 60,000 nautical miles, 100 ports, and 27 nations. Hōkūleʻa is a double-hull sailing vessel that voyages without the use of modern instruments, using stars, winds, and waves to navigate from destination to destination. During this current leg, the crew is honoring Native American tribes in the region and teaching and learning about traditions and practices of protecting cultural and environmental resources. Weather permitting, the crew conducts community and educational outreach programs, including canoe tours for the public during each stop.

Following is the tentative schedule for MDI. Since the schedule is subject to change, the public is encouraged to visitwww.hokulea.com for the latest information.

Saturday, July 23

  • 9:00 am: Wabanaki and the Mount Desert community will gather for a public Arrival Ceremony to welcome Hōkūleʻa at JW Boat Company (Hall Quarry Road, Mount Desert, ME) 
  • 12:00-4:00 pm: Public Engagement and Canoe Tours to follow Ceremony and Exchange

Sunday, July 24

  • 6:00 pm: Crew Presentation at JW Boat Company, Open to the Public

Tuesday, July 26

  • 10:00 am - 3:15 pm: Youth Groups visit Canoe (by appointment)
  • 4:00-5:00 pm: Crew Presentation in Community Gallery at Abbe Museum, 26 Mount Desert Street, Bar Harbor, Open to the Public

Youth groups are invited to visit Hōkūleʻa on Tuesday, July 26th. Group size is limited to 50 youth and reservations are required for time blocks throughout the day. Interested groups should contact Debra Deal at Camp Beechcliff to inquire about reservations: (207) 244-0365, debra@campbeechcliff.org.

Hōkūleʻa is sailing the Earth’s oceans to visit and learn from those who are working to solve some of the greatest challenges facing the world today. Her crew spreads the Mālama Honua (care for Island Earth) message as it grows the global movement for a more sustainable world. The stories exchanged among crewmembers and communities they visit add to the collective wisdom shaping global lessons for the future health of our Island Earth, and the health of our people, lands, and oceans.

For Hōkūleʻa's most up-to-date US east coast schedule, visit http://www.hokulea.com/hokuleas-planned-east-coast-port-stops/.

To follow the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, visit http://hokulea.com/track-the-voyage.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Sonja Swenson Rogers
Polynesian Voyaging Society
sonja@pvshawaii.org
(808) 745-3386

The online press kit is available at www.hokulea.com/press.

About Hōkūleʻa
A symbol of cultural revival, the history of Hōkūleʻa is also being shared on this journey to inspire other indigenous cultures. This replica of an ancient Polynesian voyaging canoe was built 40 years ago and revitalized voyaging and navigation traditions throughout the Pacific. The canoe’s twin hulls allow her to handle large ocean swells and recover easily in the troughs of waves, and her triangular canvas sails can harness winds up to 20 knots. Hōkūleʻa first set out on the Pacific Ocean in 1975. Through the revival of the traditional art and science of wayfinding–navigating the sea guided by nature using the ocean swells, stars, and wind–Hōkūleʻa sparked a Hawaiian cultural renaissance and has reawakened the world’s sense of pride and strength as voyagers charting a course for our Island Earth.

About the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage presented by Hawaiian Airlines
The Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage will cover over 60,000 nautical miles, 100 ports, and 27 nations, including 12 of UNESCO's Marine World Heritage sites. Voyaging from Hawaiʻi in 2013 with an estimated sail conclusion date of June 2017, the Worldwide Voyage is taking the iconic sailing vessel, Hōkūleʻa, around Island Earth and her sister canoe, Hikianalia, around the Hawaiian Islands to grow a global movement toward a more sustainable world. The voyage seeks to engage all of Island Earth - practicing how to live sustainably while sharing Polynesian culture, learning from the past and from each other, creating global relationships, and discovering the wonders of the precious place we call home.

Since departing Hawaiian waters in May 2014, Hōkūle‘a has sailed more than 26,000 nautical miles and made stops in 14 countries and 70 ports, weaving a “Lei of Hope” around the world. Along the way, more than 200 volunteer crewmembers have helped to sail Hōkūle‘a to spread the message of Mālama Honua (or taking care of Island Earth) by promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness, as well as exchanging ideas with the countries she has visited. So far, crewmembers have connected with more than 45,000 people in communities across the South Pacific, Tasman Sea and Indian Ocean including Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, Indonesia, Mauritius, South Africa, Brazil, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Cuba. The Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage reached the East Coast of the United States in March 2016, stopping in Florida, South Carolina, and Virginia before continuing north to Washington D.C., New York City (where it celebrated World Oceans Day at the United Nations on June 8) and New England.

To learn more about Hōkūleʻa and this historic voyage, view: https://youtu.be/tRHtu8rCAC0.

For a midway recap of the Worldwide Voyage, visit http://www.hokulea.com/2015-worldwide-voyage-recap/.

About the Polynesian Voyaging Society
The Polynesian Voyaging Society was founded in 1973 on a legacy of Pacific Ocean exploration, seeking to perpetuate the art and science of traditional Polynesian voyaging and the spirit of exploration through experiential educational programs that inspire students and their communities to respect and care for themselves, one another and their natural and cultural environments.

For more information about the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Worldwide Voyage, visit www.hokulea.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google+.

Note: The Polynesian Voyaging Society is sensitive to and understands the importance of diacritical markings. In mediums where the reproduction of these markings is true (i.e., in print), diacritical markings will be used. If a communication crosses several mediums to include the Web, which does not always reproduce diacritical markings correctly, diacritical markings will not be used.

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

Abbe Museum and Dawnland, LLC Announce 2016 Fellowship Winners

The 2016 Wabanaki Artist Fellows, Gabriel Frey, Theresa Secord, and Jason Brown, all gave artist demonstrations at the Abbe Museum's Annual Meeting on June 3, 2016. 

The Abbe Museum is honored to announce the 2016 Wabanaki Artist Fellows, recognizing three exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and significant contributions to the arts: Jason K. Brown, Penobscot, Gabriel Frey, Passamaquoddy, and Theresa Secord, Penobscot. These fellowships are made possible through support from Dawnland, LLC, the concessioner in Acadia National Park.

The fellowships are intended to provide support for travel, lodging, and other costs associated with exhibiting at Indian art markets in Maine and New Mexico. Brown and Secord will attend the 2016 Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Santa Fe Indian Market (SWAIA) in August, and Frey will attend one of the local markets.

“It is an honor to support talented Wabanaki artists and we look forward to hearing about their success and supporting them through fellowships, our Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market on July 9, 2016, and through our museum shop,” said Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, president and CEO of the Abbe Museum. 

Brown, owner of Bangor-based jewelry studio Decontie & Brown, handcrafts jewelry and traditional beadwork made from various metals and semi-precious gemstones. “My work is motivated by my desire to bring to life the designs created by my imagination,” Brown said. “I find inspiration in nature, and in the designs of my Penobscot culture. Historically, the Wabanaki people hired local metalsmiths to create adornments for them. I feel that as a contemporary Wabanaki jeweler, I am breaking new ground as a metalsmith and jeweler.”

Frey, a Passamaquoddy brown ash basketmaker, specializes in utility baskets such as pack baskets, market baskets, and purses. “I weave each basket solely with brown ash and handcraft leather straps for each basket,” Frey said. “My artistic process includes locating and harvesting basket quality brown ash trees from the woods, processing brown ash logs, and weaving brown ash materials into basket forms. I carve the hoops, rims, handle, and wooden pins to fasten leather straps. The majority of my tools, such as basket molds, gauges, and my shave horse, are adaptations of traditional designs. Maintaining the traditional knowledge of Wabanaki basketmakers is an important aspect of my artistic process.”

Over the past ten years, Secord has won awards for her basketry, including several first places at Santa Fe Indian Market, the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market, and the Eiteljorg Indian Market. She is also the first U.S. citizen to receive the Prize for Creativity in Rural Life by the Women’s World Summit Foundation at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, for helping basket makers rise out of poverty. “My art journey is currently focused on the use of alternative, natural materials to supplement ash, due to the Emerald Ash Borer beetle,” Secord said. “I’ve been dedicated to the preservation/protection of the sacred ash trees for 23 years, and helped pioneer the use of cedar bark overlay on ash in Maine Indian basketry a few years ago.”

About Dawnland, LLC
Dawnland, LLC operates the Jordan Pond House restaurant, including the traditional tea and popovers on the lawn overlooking Jordan Pond and the Bubbles, and retail services at Jordan Pond House, Cadillac Mountain, and Thunder Hole. Dawnland's parent company, Ortega National Parks, LLC, has more than 45 years of hospitality experience and over 16 years' experience operating concessions in the National Park Service, including at Bandelier National Monument, White Sands, Muir Woods, Carlsbad Caverns, Death Valley and Gateway National Recreation Area.

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!

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.

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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Read to ME Challenge

TheRead to ME Challenge is a month-long public awareness campaign beginning in February 2016 to promote childhood literacy in Maine.

Looking for a good book for theRead to ME Challenge February 2 through March 2, 2016? There are some amazing Wabanaki authors out there you should check out! Take a journey of friendship between Passamaquoddy birchbark artist and guide Tomah Joseph and future president Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Donald Soctomah's book Remember Me: Tomah Joseph's Gift to Franklin Roosevelt. Cross the sky with Muin through the telling of a very old Mi'kmaw legend inMuin and the Seven Bird Hunter's: A Mi'kmaw Night Sky Story by Lillian Marshall, Murdena Marshall, Prune Harris, and Cheryl Bartlett. Follow Kunu as he tries to make an ash basket for the first time just like the other men on Indian Island inKunu's Basket: a Story From Indian Island by Lee DeCora Francis. From ancient oral traditions to contemporary stories, there is something for everyone!

On Saturday, February 20, 2016, the Abbe is partnering with theJesup Library from 1 - 2 pm for a specialRead to ME program. Do you have personal objects that spark a specific memory? Do you have a stuffed animal, toy, or photograph which reminds you of a time you spent with a friend? Bring that with you to the Jesup Library and join Abbe Museum Educator Jen Heindel as we share some of our own memories before we readRemember Me: Tomah Joesph's Gift to Franklin Roosevelt by Donald Soctomah and Jean Flahive. After the story, we'll make miniature faux-birchbark canoes just like the one Tomah Joseph gave to Franklin Roosevelt!

Here are a few more books by Wabanaki authors:

  • Thanks to the Animals by Sockabasin, Allen J., and Rebekah Raye
  • Muskrat Will Be Swimming by Savageau, Cheryl, and Robert Hynes
  • Weska'qelmut Apje'juanu by Fitch, Sheree, and Bernard Francis
  • A Little Boy Catches a Whale by Perron, Judith Carol, and Naomi Mitcham
  • How the Cougar Came to Be Called the Ghost Cat by Isaac, Michael James, and Dozay Christmas
  • How the Petitcodiac River Became Muddy by Maillet, Marguerite, and Raymond Martin. English Version by Allison Mitcham
  • Tihtiyas Et Jean by Gagnon, Nathalie, Naomi Mitcham, and Donald Soctomah
  • Un Petit Garçon Pêche Une Baleine by Perron, Judith Carol, and Naomi Mitcham
  • Nine Micmac Legends by Nowlan, Alden

Happy reading!

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!

Peacebuilding at the Abbe

The World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates is the largest annual event in peacemaking. Needless to say, attending an event such as this is an incredibly daunting task—especially when you’ve been chosen to be the first Native youth delegate to attend.

Why was I chosen? Could they not find someone better? What if I speak too strongly, or am not strong enough? What if I misrepresent my people? What if?

These questions raced through my mind at what seemed like a thousand times per second as I checked in at the Bar Harbor International Airport. With my hand drum and my mother’s eagle feather tucked into a compartment on the wing of the tiny plane, I embarked on a journey that already felt like one of the most significant and terrifying experiences of my life. 

I was excited to be able to hear from the Nobel Laureate’s directly—last year, due to various political reasons, the Summit was postponed and I attended the Global Youth Peace Indaba in Capetown, South Africa, instead. I knew that the Summit would be very different from the Indaba, and the chance to be able to ask questions of today’s leading peacemakers made me feel nervous and intimidated. I arrived in Barcelona, Spain, prepared to consider ways in which peacebuilding can be incorporated into my work at the Abbe Museum and armed with the goal of creating the first Native Youth Delegation to the Summit in 2016. After visiting the city in high school and spending three months there as an undergraduate, it was as if I was returning to a home away from home.

Plaza Espanya, Barcelona

After one brief evening of getting to know the other delegates, the Summit began like a whirlwind. The opening ceremony and sessions took place at the Universitat de Barcelona and began with a welcome by the mayor of the city, Ada Colau. I found that even though I hadn’t heard the Catalán language since I left the city in 2008, I understood the majority of what was said! Not only did Mayor Colau express gratitude to the Laureates and Secretariat for choosing Barcelona, but she also set the tone for the rest of the Summit by publicly stating that Barcelona would welcome Syrian refugees. This led to larger discussions regarding refugees, with other Laureates pointing out the fact that this is not a new humanitarian crisis, and that the root causes of war must be eliminated in order to create peace. Laureate Mairead Maguire, from Northern Ireland, stated that eliminating the roots of war—specifically, ending militarism—would ultimately be up to young people. She believes that the youth is more ingenious than previous generations, and she apologized to the youth delegates for the world that would one day be handed to us.

Me and Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire.

Laureate Mohammed Yunus, from Bangladesh, echoed Maguire’s message, stating that creating a new civilization is the mission of our generation. He stated that, with 20 million refugees around the globe, the world needs direction from the peace Laureates. His message was that the concentration of wealth and the unemployment of young people worldwide ultimately makes for an unsustainable society; he encouraged that we, as human beings, are not job seekers but job creators and that unemployment is the artificial creation of wrong-thinking. If we are to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030, then we, as young people, needed to take action. These goals are meant to serve as guiding steps to achieving sustainable world peace.

Each of the youth delegations nominated two participants to contribute to the creation of the 2015 Youth Declaration of Peace, which would be composed of declarations pertaining to each of the Sustainable Development Goals. Students and young activists from around the world discussed ways in which we, as young people, can work to achieve these goals, and working with my colleagues from LUISS (Libera Università Internazionale degli Studio Sociali Guido Carli), Oxford University, and PeaceJam, the following was written to accompany goal number ten, “Reducing Inequalities:”    

Financial inequality, ongoing colonization, refusal of reconciliation, institutionalized and non-institutionalized discrimination, and the disparate distribution and development of agricultural and medical resources are just a few of the challenges concerning the reduction of inequality; the role of youth is key to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals through raising awareness and constantly learning; an effective preliminary solution for eliminating these social constructs is to encourage the unconditional appreciation of all human life (The Youth Declaration of Peace).

Me and other Youth Delegates after the American Friends Service Committee Workshop.

I knew that the Youth Declaration was going to be read during the closing ceremony of the Summit, but I was still surprised when my colleagues informed me that, while I was in the restroom, they had unanimously decided that I would read our section. Aloud. On a stage. In front of all the participating Laureates. The next morning, I met with the other delegates assigned to read the declaration and prepared to read in front of the world’s leaders in peacebuilding. I was, to say the least, absolutely terrified, and have never been more thankful for my theater degree. With my drum keeping my hands steady and my mother’s feather giving me strength, I walked on stage with representatives from the other delegations.

Me at Font Magica, Barcelona

My experiences in Barcelona were far too many for me to effectively summarize in one blog post. I reconnected with old friends while making amazing new ones; returned to a city that I adore; was able to ask questions of incredible peace builders including Jody Williams (a driving force in the launching of an international campaign against landmines), Tawakkol Karman (she has been called the "Iron Woman" and "Mother of the Revolution"), and Frederik Willem de Klerk (the former State President of South Africa!), and excitedly told anyone that would listen how the Abbe tackles social justice issues in a museum setting. Now, I’m conducting research to create the FIRST EVER Native Youth Delegation to the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates for 2016, and couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this history!

Me and Nobel Laureate Jody Williams

There were an infinite amount of meaningful messages received at the Summit. If I were to boil all of these messages down into core lessons, they would be as follows: Mohammed Yunus taught me that youth is key to making change; Mairead Maguire reaffirmed that dialogue is essential to making peace; Frederik Willem de Klerk encouraged that reconciliation is essential to decolonization, and Jody Williams stressed that empathy must be converted into action. With these lessons being added to my peacebuilding toolkit, it is my hope to share these messages with other Indigenous youth and ultimately contribute to the cultivation of sustainable peace, and create a world that my grandchildren will be proud to be a part of.

Thank you to the American Friends Service Committee, an amazing organization that made my journey possible.

New Passamaquoddy Language App

The Passamaquoddy tribe, located at Indian Township and Pleasant Point in Washington County, Maine, has released a new app for iPhone and Android users, specifically designed to encourage the use and retention of the Passamaquoddy language—one of the few Native languages still spoken on the east coast.

Until the early 1980s, the Passamaquoddy language had been passed down entirely through oral traditions, when the tribe began developing a written system using 17 letters from the modern English alphabet. After the writing system was developed, it began to be implemented in tribal schools.

In 2008, the Passamaquoddy tribe published the first complete dictionary of the Passamaquoddy-Maliseet language, containing over 18,000 entries. At the same time, the Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Language Portal went live on the World Wide Web, providing people all over the world with access to the Passamaquoddy-Maliseet language.

The new smartphone app, available through the Apple App Store or Google Play, teaches users how to speak Passamaquoddy through written examples, audio recordings, videos, quizzes, and even games, allowing users to track their progress and improve their fluency. With categories such as office phrases, household items, commands, and traditional clothing, this app provides an easy way to practice speaking Passamaquoddy in a 21st century context.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this app is it's lack of availability—while anyone can download it, only members of the Passamaquoddy tribe have access to the PIN numbers required to activate the app. Cultural appropriation is a rampant problem not only in Maine, but throughout Indian Country, so the restrictions placed on the app is one way that the Passamaquoddy tribe has chosen to enforce their rights to self determination, sovereignty, and to prevent misappropriation of the Passamaquoddy-Maliseet language.

For anyone interested in learning more about the Passamaquoddy-Maliseet language, please visit www.pmportal.org. The Language Portal is free to use and open to the public, and includes audio and video links as well as pronunciation guides.

For more information on the Passamaquoddy Language App, please contact the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township or Pleasant Point , Maine.

Meet a Wabanaki Artist Fellow: Donna Brown

Donna Brown talked about her beaded moccasins with Abbe Trustee, Sandy Wilcox, at the Museum's annual meeting in August.

Donna Brown talked about her beaded moccasins with Abbe Trustee, Sandy Wilcox, at the Museum's annual meeting in August.

Donna Brown, Penobscot, handcrafts jewelry and traditional beadwork made from various metals, semi-precious gemstones, and glass beads. She uses stringing and metal shaping techniques to create various types of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, and also uses intricate beadwork techniques to create jewelry and regalia accessories by beading with cloth, leather, and a loom. She has beaded on items such as moccasins, shoes, belts, barrettes, shawls, earrings, and hair ties.

"My work is motivated by my desire to create colorful jewelry and regalia that will be passed on to future generations," Donna said in her fellowship application's artist statement. "I am inspired by the colors and elements of nature, as well as my Wabanaki culture, and I am passionate about creating miniature works of art that begin with a sketch or outline of a pattern and seeing it come to life through the work of my hands. It gives me great joy to see others enjoy and wear my creations, whether for everyday wear or worn specially for traditional gatherings."

Donna is working hard to build her business and cultivate her brand to a level of success that will allow her to broaden her reach into the jewelry and fashion industry.

"I feel once I have gained access to this industry, I can share the beauty and significance of our culture through my designs and creations. It is also my goal to teach others my skills to serve as a mentor and help keep our traditions alive."

In July, Donna attended the Native American Festival as an Abbe Museum Fellow. She and her husband, Jason, are the creative force behind Decontie & Brown  and have been creating jewelry for the past 20 years.

"This fellowship will also support me by allowing me access to some of the tools and supplies that are needed to sharpen and polish my brand. By presenting my jewelry in a professional and attractive way, I add value to my creations, my brand, and to Native American jewelry and art. Wabanaki artists who attend the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance shows, are in the unique position of presenting their creations to collectors from around the world. My goal is to utilize this opportunity by attending these shows and presenting my creations in the same manner as top jewelry designers, utilizing cohesive display presentation and product packaging. 

The Abbe Museum Wabanaki Artist Fellowships were made possible through support from Dawnland, LLC, the concessioner in Acadia National Park.

October at the Abbe

When I started at the Abbe back in December, I hoped life would never be dull here, and my expectations were, in fact, exceeded—I’ve found creative and remarkable people, ingenious ideas, boundless energy, exciting programming, and stimulating exhibits. I am exactly where I’m meant to be—back home in Maine and working at an organization that not only inspires me every day, but one I believe in wholeheartedly. We're doing all this amazing, important work and I get to play a part in all of it!

And now it's October. One of the things that I haven't quite been able to grasp this year is the passage of time. 2015 has been going at such a fast clip, and the fact that it's October (my favorite month!) is slightly hard to believe. If you're feeling the same way I am, don’t despair—we have plenty to offer at the Abbe this month, including exhibitions, festivals, programming, and activities that will keep you entertained and engaged, whether you’re on a family outing or taking some “you” time to reflect and get inspired.

We're partnering with theMount Desert Island YMCA this year on a couple of programs, the first of which is Thursday, October 8th. The Children's Wabanaki Map Workshop, from 3:30 - 4:30 pm at the YMCA, will explore how Wabanaki people made story-like birchbark maps, orwikhikonik, using specific symbols that were used as forms of communication between two separated parties. You’ll be able to use a piece of imitation birchbark to tell a story of your choosing and create your own  wikhikonik ! This workshop is free and open to the public.

For those of you traveling to Bar Harbor this weekend (October 10th), there's a LOT going on at the Museum. We have two festivals occurring— Bar Harbor Film Festival andBar Harbor Children's Book Festival —and afree Teacher's Workshop. Because of the all the activity, we'll be shuffling around some exhibits, which means not all the exhibits will be open this weekend. If you are hoping to see theWaponahki Student Art Show (which closes the end of this month),  The Greatest Mountain, orLayers of Time, you might want to aim to come by on Monday, October 12th, when all three will be re-opened. And what better way to re-think Columbus Day than by coming to a Native American museum to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day!

We're also doing something this weekend that we haven't done in quite a while: admission will be by donation on Saturday the 10th and Sunday the 11th. Regular admission rates are $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 11 - 17; children 10 and under are free, as are Abbe members and Native Americans.

The inaugural Bar Harbor Film Festival kicks off at the Abbe on Friday evening, October 9th, at 6 pm and admission to the opening reception is free if youRSVP online. Check out theBHFF website for a full schedule of the weekend's film screenings and programs, and you can also purchase tickets for all of the Festival's events (there's different pricing depending on what you'd like to do). Or, stop by the Abbe Museum Shop and pick up your tickets in person.

Abbe Museum members get in free!
The Bar Harbor Children's Book Festival is free and open to the public, so please stop by between 11 am and 3 pm for some author and illustrator workshops.

Our free Teacher's Workshop on Saturday, October 10th from 8 am to 4 pm will focus on how contact with European cultures affects Wabanaki communities. Some of the topics that will be examined include French and British attitudes towards the Wabanaki, different ideals of land ownership and the problems this created, how Wabanaki culture had changed by the end of the

Revolutionary War, and where to find resources and how to evaluate them. Teachers will earn eight (8) Contact Hours for the workshop. To register, please contact Museum Educator Jen Heindel at jen@abbemuseum.org or call 207-288-3519.

On Thursday, October 15th, our annual film series is back, and this year’s theme focuses on the ideas ofContinuity, Change, and Resistance . The first film, Weaving Worlds, is a documentary about Diné (Navajo) rug weaving, and viewers will see one of the many perspectives on how Indigenous peoples in America have ensured economic and cultural survival through contemporary art. After the movie, join Museum Educators George Neptune and Jennifer Heindel for a discussion about the survival of traditions in the face of globalization. The film series is free and open to the public, and sponsored by Reel Pizza.

One of our most anticipated fall programs, Tea & Popovers Archaeology, will take place at the Jordan Pond House on Monday, October 19th from 7 - 9 pm. Our guest speaker this year is Chris Sockalexis, Penobscot Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, and he'll present on the topic of petroglyph sites in Maine. This is a very popular evening and we've already filled a lot of seats! RSVP to 207-288-3519 or info@abbemuseum.org. The cost is $20 for Abbe members and $30 for non-members.

Click here for full event listings for October.