People of the First Light shares a wide variety of content and perspectives around more than 12,000 years of history, conflict, adaptation, and survival in the Wabanaki homeland.
People of the First Light, the Abbe Museum's new core exhibit, introduces visitors to the Wabanaki universe, engaging them with the culture and history of a people that is unfamiliar to many. Bringing together oral traditions, personal stories, cultural knowledge, language, and historical accounts with objects, photographs, multi-media, and digital interactives, People of the First Light shares a wide variety of content and perspectives around more than 12,000 years of history, conflict, adaptation, and survival in the Wabanaki homeland.
The design of the exhibit space was developed with a contemporary feel, shaped by the work of Wabanaki artists who have been a part of the design process from the beginning. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a two-story sculptural ash tree that draws the various sections of the exhibit together. Artwork and illustrations by Maliseet artist Gina Brooks, among other Wabanaki artists, are the foundation of a visual experience that reflects both Wabanaki traditions and current experiences.
People of the First Light provides visitors with an understanding of Wabanaki history and culture, affirming that there are Native people in Maine and the wider Wabanaki homeland today and that their story is one of more than 12,000 years with no removal history. The exhibit also connects visitors, and the knowledge and experiences they bring with them, to Wabanaki perspectives and ideas through multiple ways of knowing.