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Program 8: People of the Dawn


Edward Bassett Jr.Edward Bassett Jr.
Member of the Passamaquoddy tribe at Sipayik (Pleasant Point)

Edward Bassett Jr. is a former Lieutennant Governor for the Pleasant Point community. He currently works as a multimedia specialist for the Tribe and makes traditional birchbark canoes at home. His canoes are constructed using the techniques and methods taught to him by Algonquin Elder William Commanda. This skill was traditionally passed down from generation to generation within a tribal community. The Passamaquoddy bark canoe builders had all died out and this ancient artform and skill was lost to the Passamaquoddy for well over 100 years. When Ed looked for a Passamaquoddy or Wabanaki teacher he was unable to find anyone to teach him the skill. So he looked to a neighboring tribe and found William Commanda at the Algonquin Reserve in Maniwaki Quebec to be his teacher. In 1980 he was taught and then brought the skill back to his community.

Bruce BourqueBruce Bourque
Chief Archeologist and Curator of Ethnology, Maine State Museum

Bruce Bourque is Chief Archaeologist for the Maine State Museum and senior lecturer in Anthropology at Bates College. He is the primary author of "Twelve Thousand Years: American Indians in Maine" (University of Nebraska Press, 2001), a history of native Mainers from the earliest Paleo-Indians to the natives who greeted the European explorers. The book sums up Bourque's Maine research to date. In 1970 he began an archaeological project on Penobscot Bay's Fox Islands that has surveyed more than 200 sites so far and excavated 35. Dr. Bourque's Ph.D is from Harvard University.

Barry DanaBarry Dana
Sagama (Chief) of the Penobscot Nation

Barry Dana grew up on Indian Island on the Penobscot River where he now serves as Sagama or Chief. Barry's family and elders provided cultural guidance for him, and encouraged self-respect and determination to overcome the many social and environmental threats facing his community. He learned traditional Penobscot lifeways such as plant identification and herbal medicine, sweetgrass and brown ash basket making, dancing and drumming. He was a standout athlete at Old Town High School, and later at the University of Maine at Orono. He graduated from UMO in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in education and an associate's degree in forest management. In the years since college, he has dedicated his life to teaching people, particularly children, about the traditional lifestyles of the Wabanaki. Barry was elected Governor of the Penobscot Nation (the tribal council has since changed his title to Chief) chief of the Penobscot Nation in 2000.. He was re-elected in the Fall of 2002.

Bernard Jerome
Cultural Director Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians

Bernard Jerome serves as the Cultural/Community Director for the Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians.

Bernard Jerome

John Bear MitchellJohn Bear Mitchell
Director of the University of Maine Wabanaki Center

John Bear Mitchell, a member of the Penobscot Nation on Indian Island in the Penobscot River, he serves as the Director of the Wabanaki Center at the University of Maine in Orono. He also teaches Wabanaki History at the University. He received his Bachelors in Elementary Education and a Masters of Educational Leadership at the University of Maine. Before taking his position at the University of Maine, he was the Native Studies teacher at the Indian Island School. He was appointed by his tribal council to serve as a member of the Wabanaki Education Committee, which was an outcome of a bill passed by the Maine Legislature to require teaching of Wabanaki Studies in all Maine schools at all grade levels.

David SangerDavid Sanger
Professor of Archaeology, University of Maine

Dr. David Sanger received his Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1967. Since that time Dr. Sanger's research interests focus on the archaeology of hunters and gatherers, especially those living in marine environments. Dr. Sanger joined the faculty at University of Maine in 1971 where he's now Professor of Anthropology and Quaternary Studies. Dr. Sanger has conducted extensive Maine-based field work since coming to Maine as well as publishing numerous scholarly works on the subject of the prehistoric archeology of the state. A recent major area of research has been the archaeology of the Penobscot River valley and its peoples prior to the arrival of Europeans. He approaches the understanding of past cultures through interdisciplinary research, combining geological and biological sciences with anthropology. Although his recent research has focused on Northeastern North America with emphasis on Maine and the Maritime Provinces of Canada, he maintains a global perspective on hunter-gatherer-fisher lifeways.

Fred Tomah
Master Basketmaker from the Houlton Band of Maliseets

Fred Tomah is a Maliseet master basketmaker from the Houlton Band of Maliseet. Using the methods handed down over many generations of elders, Fred has made baskets from Ash for over 35 years. He currently makes more than 12 styles of baskets from wood that he gathers from walks in the woods and later splits himself. Fred's method modifies traditional utilitarian basket forms, incorporating chairweave techniques to create a new generation of unique baskets.

Fred Tomah

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