Baskets are the stars of the Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market, to be held on campus of the College of the Atlantic on July 8. PHOTO COURTESY OF MADELAINE AZAR

Native American Festival returns for 24th year

BAR HARBOR — The Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market will celebrate 24 years on Saturday, July 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at College of the Atlantic.

The festival is free and open to the public and features the Native arts market, Native music, dance, storytelling, craft demonstrations and a silent auction. 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.

See a schedule of the day’s activities here.

This 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 in Maine and the Maritimes. For many visitors, this is a rare opportunity to meet the artists and learn about contemporary Wabanaki arts and cultures.

The Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, as part of its mission to preserve and extend the art of basket making within the Wabanaki communities, is responsible for bringing in dozens of new, “next generation” basket makers and their families to the event. Many of these talented basket makers first got their start at the festival over the 24 years it has been in Bar Harbor and have watched it grow from a few artists selling baskets while singers and dancers performed, to a festival that displays a wide array of Native crafts and cultural demonstrations.

At the time of the alliance’s founding in 1993, there were fewer than a dozen basket makers younger than the age of 50 statewide who were still practicing and learning this ancient and once-prolific art form. Through 24 years of educational programs and marketing efforts, MIBA has lowered the average age of basket makers from 63 to 40 and increased numbers from 55 founding members to 200-plus basket makers today.

Sponsored by the Maine Arts Commission and Maine Public, there is something for everyone at the Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market. Proceeds support the nonprofit 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.


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