Passamaquoddy basketmaker Gabriel Frey leads demonstrations of his craft in Acadia National Park, as part of the Cultural Connections program, a partnership between the park and the Abbe Museum. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Native people, visitors forge ‘cultural connections’



ACADIA NAT’L PARK — “We want visitors to Acadia to understand that we’re not just a park that has preserved the natural beauty for the American people, but a park that has a very deep, long and enduring connection to native people whose homeland this was and still is today,” Marie Yarborough, the park’s cultural resources and interpretation liaison, said last week.

To that end, the park, in partnership with the Abbe Museum, presents a series of performances and demonstrations by Maine native artists every Wednesday from late June through August. This is the tenth year of the series called Cultural Connections in the Park.

The series includes demonstrations and performances by basket makers, beadwork artists, birch bark artists, painters, singers, drummers, flute players, storytellers and others. It primarily showcases the talents of members of the four Wabanaki tribes in Maine.

“We realized that the best way for park visitors to learn about native people — their history on this island and how their traditions are connected to this landscape — is to have native people talk about themselves, share their experiences and share their talents,” Yarborough said.

The Burnurwurbskek Singers, who are members of the Penobscot Nation, perform during a recent Cultural Connections program. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Among those who have done so for nine years now are the Burnurwurbskek Singers, who are members of the Penobscot Nation.

“We’re here to entertain, but also to educate,” said Ron Bear, the leader of the singing and drumming group.

“We want people to know that we’re still here,” he said. “Ten thousand years later, we’re still singing our songs and speaking our language.”

The group performed and answered visitors’ questions inside the Abbe Museum in downtown Bar Harbor last week because it was raining outside. They had been scheduled to perform, as they usually do, at the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia.

Bear said the mountain is where the group feels a special connection to the land.

“Cadillac is such a sacred mountain to us, like [Mount] Katahdin. Katahdin was our fall and winter home, and Mount Desert Island and Cadillac was our summer home.”

All of the Cultural Connections programs are free to the public. They are sponsored by Dawnland, LLC, which operates the Jordan Pond House restaurant and the gift shops in the park.

The schedule for this summer’s remaining Cultural Connections demonstrations and performances can be found at abbemuseum.org/events.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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