November 1 kicks off National Native American Heritage Month, which holds significant importance in Maine as the state is home to several Native American tribes, including the Wabanaki Confederacy, which comprises the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Mi'kmaq, and Abenaki peoples. According to Four Directions in Maine, a nonprofit Community Development Corporation, the Wabanaki Confederacy or (Waponahki) — is “translated as “People of the First Light” or “Dawnland” stretching from Newfoundland in the north to mid-Maine in the south, and parts of Quebec in the west.”
This month provides an opportunity to recognize and honor the historical and contemporary contributions of Native American communities. Here are several art and cultural events that are worth the road trip, along with a couple of virtual exhibits you can enjoy at home.
Abbe, Museum, downtown, Bar Harbor
This is a beautiful art collection created by Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Maliseet, and Mi'kmaq students from early childhood education through high school and is a current exhibit at the Abbe Museum. This collaboration with Maine Indian Education, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Border Towns, and the Abbe Museum (quotes) Drive to its location in downtown Bar Harbor or check out the online gallery here.
The Hudson Museum, UMO
Drive to the University of Maine in Orono to the Hudson Museum (2 Flagstaff Rd, Orono) which is free to all and open Monday through Friday 9 to 4 p.m. to see its Wabanaki Collection, or do a virtual tour of Native artists who are videotaped making their art.
Wabanki Health & Wellness, Bangor
November 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Join local Native artists for a special market at the Wabanaki Public Health Youth & Cultural Center in downtown Bangor to celebrate native artists and find some special handmade items. The event will be at 57 Park Street in Bangor and will feature paintings, traditional and modern beadwork, traditional salves, digital art, ink drawings, and more.
Penobscot Theater Company
November 18, 2023, 8 to 9 p.m.
Jason Brown, also known as Firefly, is a Native American artist of the Penobscot Nation, with Swedish roots, born and raised in ancient Wabanaki territory. Firefly, as he goes by professionally, is a vocalist and songkeeper who has performed for the Kennedy Center’s Arts Across America series. Learn a little bit more about him here. He will be doing a one-night show at 135 Main St, Bangor, ME to “illuminate the beauty and healing power of his ancient indigenous culture through music, visuals and creativity.”
Wabanaki Studies Learning Progression
If you don’t want to drive but want a cultural immersion this month, consider watching or listening to these videos and podcasts all around the state on culture, history, contemporary issues, and arts and entertainment. Another podcast to check out is WERU’s Wabanaki Windows, a monthly podcast hosted by Donna Loring, an author, broadcaster, and former Senior Advisor on Tribal Affairs, featuring topics of interest from a Wabanaki perspective.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org