Scholarship to support Native preservation

ELLSWORTH — In honor of Passamaquoddy artist and activist David Moses Bridges, a new scholarship has been created in partnership with First People’s Fund and the Maine Community Foundation. A $10,000 lead gift was made to establish the scholarship, which will support cultural, artistic and environmental preservation work for artists, scholars, educators and environmental activists whose efforts are focused on the preservation of traditional resources, knowledge and spaces that inspire Native works of art and cultural expression.

This scholarship is inspired by the life, art and activism of Bridges, who believed strongly that the preservation of natural spaces and passing on of traditional knowledge and skills from one generation to the next are vital to the health of the environment, people and communities. The scholarship will support connections between master artists and apprentices, aspiring artists, scholars and elders; research and publications inspired by and about Bridges and his work; and the preservation of unique culturally important spaces and resources.

As an educator, Bridges inspired thousands of people of all ages, backgrounds and interests. Through his patient and passionate ability to share his traditions, he broke through cultural barriers and broke down stereotypes about Native people. In addition to teaching classes on basket making and canoe building, Bridges was a talented educator who was able to talk about history, the ongoing struggle for Native rights and boatbuilding in classrooms, museums and public forums.

Bridges’ death has left a gap in the knowledge and skills passed down from his ancestors to the next generation of Native people. His expertise in birch bark basketry and canoe building was unique, and the scholarship will help provide financial support for future generations of artists, culture keepers and activists to ensure the health and vibrancy of Native knowledge, skills and traditions.

Anyone interested in supporting the scholarship and honoring Bridges’ legacy can make a tax-deductable contribution by visiting the Maine Community Foundation website, clicking on “Give Now,” choosing “Other” from the drop-down menu and typing in “David Moses Bridges Scholarship Fund.” Awards will be made through the First People’s Fund, a nonprofit agency that honors and supports the collective spirit of First People’s artists and culture bearers.



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