Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Free Admission!

The Maine Thing Quarterly Features the Wabanaki and Acadia National Park

The latest edition of The Maine Thing Quarterly features a chapter on the Wabanaki, which includes interviews with the Abbe's Director of Collections & Interpretation, Julia Clark, and Museum Educator, George Neptune. ‪#‎NativeAmericanHeritageMonth‬

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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 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.

Friday, October 23, 2015

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, 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's Blue Jay earrings.

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.

Donna and Jason Brown at the Native American Festival in July.

"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.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New Exhibit by Native Artist Dozay Coming to the Abbe Museum

Original paintings illustrate the various legends of Kluskap and his adventures. Image courtesy Dozay.

The Abbe Museum is pleased to announce the opening of Kluskap of the Wabanaki, an exhibit by Maliseet artist Dozay. Consisting of original paintings, the exhibit illustrates the various legends of Kluskap and his adventures across the Wabanaki homeland, using landmarks that tell his story. It will be on display from November 5 through December 19, 2015, with a reception and meet the artist event on Saturday, November 28th from 1 - 3 pm at the Museum.
“I chose this subject because, in every eastern state and province, there are landmarks that the Wabanaki people have always known to be important,” said Dozay. “These landmarks tell of Kluskap and his many teachings. I learned, after showing this exhibit previously, that it was totally new to many people, even among the Wabanaki people.”
According to Wabanaki oral histories, Kluskap–or Koluskap, Gluskap, Glooskap, and Gluskabe–made the world habitable for human beings and taught people to live wisely. Kluskap stories have been told and retold over many generations, and these legends have always been known to teach lessons of values, and the characteristics of the animals and Mother Earth. Kluskap was a positive force with all Wabanaki tribes, and people from all the communities have written and illustrated many versions of the Kluskap legends.
“I have discovered that most legends are simply told and not illustrated,” Dozay stated. “I feel and have experienced that our Wabanaki tribes and cultural significance are known and considered significant among our own people, but lacking in mainstream Aboriginal teachings. Wabanaki ways were not taught in school or even recognized as a distinct Aboriginal culture, and my objective is to make our own people aware of our hero Kluskap by illustrating his adventures in combination with the importance of our Mother Earth.”
Kluskap and Grandmother in Stone Canoe. Image courtesy Dozay.

Dozay, one of a very few professional Native artists in Atlantic Canada, has spent much of her life cultivating her passion for art. Growing up in Western New Brunswick on the Tobique First Nation, she left the banks of the Tobique at 18 to pursue a formal education at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Although she had always displayed an interest in art, her intention had initially been to pursue a career in education. It wasn’t until her third year of college that Dozay decided to switch to the fine arts program and pursue a full-time career as an artist. This is her first first show in the U.S.

The Kluskap of the Wabanaki project is unique in that it will eventually include all Wabanaki Kluskap legends of the east. The exhibit will be on display in the Community Gallery of the Abbe Museum’s downtown Bar Harbor location until December 19. Admission is $8 per adult, $7 for senior citizens, $4 for children (11 – 17), and children 10 and under are free. Admission is free to Native Americans and Abbe members.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October at the Abbe

Great Meadow in Acadia National Park

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 the Mount 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, or wikhikonik, 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 and Bar Harbor Children's Book Festival—and a free 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 the Waponahki Student Art Show (which closes the end of this month), The Greatest Mountain, or Layers 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 you RSVP online. Check out the BHFF 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 or call 207-288-3519.

On Thursday, October 15th, our annual film series is back, and this year’s theme focuses on the ideas of Continuity, Change, and Resistance. The first film, Weaving Worlds, is a documentary about DinĂ© (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 The cost is $20 for Abbe members and $30 for non-members.

Click here for full event listings for October.