The Abbe Museum and the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA) presented the 23rd annual Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market at the College of the Atlantic July 9. The event included work by basketmakers from the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Tribes, along with demonstrations, storytelling, and more.
The Burnurwurbskek Singers of the Penobscot Nation performed and community members joined in traditional dances. “Today is a day everyone is a part of our tribe,”
a member of the group said. “Anyone can dance.”
Many of the basketmakers who brought work to the market also participate in education programs at the Abbe and Cultural Connections programs in Acadia National Park.
Penobscot basketmaker Theresa Secord, who co-founded the MIBA in 1993 and served as its director until 2104, was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts this year. Current MIBA President Molly Neptune Parker was a National Heritage Fellow in 2012.
MIBA is credited with teaching a new generation of new native basketmakers. More than 200 artists are now involved in the group, and their average age has dropped from 63 to 40. “It was our mission to save an endangered art form,” Secord said, “and we did.”