NEW GLOUCESTER — The 11th Maine Native American Summer Market will be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village at 707 Shaker Road.

More than 40 of Maine’s finest, award-winning Wabanaki artists will participate for their largest and southernmost gathering in the state at the historic Shaker Village where both groups have crossed paths for centuries.

The event is open to the public, free of charge and barbecue dinner plates will be on sale while supplies last.

Basketmaking, stone carving, wood carving, birchbark etching, doll making, beadwork and jewelry are part of Maine’s oldest, enduring and most unique traditions passed down through generations of Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Micmac and Maliseet artists.

These century-old art forms are practiced today by a small and steadily growing new generation of makers who have learned traditional crafts from their elders.

“When we started the Maine Native American Summer Market 11 years ago, it showcased the art and creativity of a leading group of Wabanaki artists,” said Michael Graham, director of Shaker Village. “Years later, we are please that it has become an important marketplace in southern Maine for the practice and preservation of traditions.”

Those participants who have recently made an impact at the state and national level include Molly Neptune Parker, a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow.

Passamaquoddy member Geo Neptune story teller at the Shaker Village at the 2017 Maine Native American Summer Market. Ellie Fellers photo

According to biographies pulled together by Graham:

Geo Neptune is an award-winning basket maker who draws upon his grandmother, Neptune Parker’s, teachings. He is nationally know for his artistry, his education and activism and for bringing awareness to issues of gender identify as a high profile “Two-spirit” recently featured in a cover article of Maine Magazine.

Gabe Frey, a 12th generation basket maker who incorporates modern flares in traditional art forms to represent the enduring nature of the Wabanaki people has been recently awarded a prestigious recognition from United States Artists to support his talent and tradition.

Frances Soctomah is a basket maker and influential member of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance started in the early 1990s to preserve and promote the continuation of important Native traditions. She joined Gabe Frey as his apprentice and they and many others bring Wabanaki culture to a national audience.

Barry Dana, renowned birchbark artist, formerly governor of the Penobscot Nation, and activist for the rights and fair treatment of Native peoples, was among a group of people who successfully changed the portrayal of Native peoples as mascots of sports teams in central Maine.

Jason and Donna Brown of DeConte and Brown are inspirational fashion experts whose jewelry artistry forms a platform of transition into a larger world art form.

Graham says, “This is beyond preservation of tradition and now includes self-identification, a power emerging for the Native community in Maine who are no longer downtrodden but moving ahead with recognition and hope. That empowerment, he says, is evident through the Burnurwurbskek Singers and dancers from the Penobscot Nation who will appear at the event with their powerful drumming, singing,  dancing and storytelling.”

Other participating artists include Dolly Barnes, Pam and Jacob Cunningham, Wendy Little Bear, Michael Silliboy and Frances Soctomah.

The Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, established in 1783, is home of the world’s only active Shaker community and has among Maine’s oldest working farms.


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