Our Stories – Wabanaki Storytelling

In January, we were in conversation with Starr Kelly to begin to share the partnership that Portland Ovations and the Abbe Museum are building in order to create a performance for young people that centers Wabanaki storytelling and the artists that tell these stories. We see this partnership and the performance as an opportunity for Wabanaki storytellers to “reassert [their] authority over [their] own narrative” as Starr so clearly stated in our conversation.

On May 25th, we are thrilled to share the continued journey of this partnership and project through a conversation with John Bear Mitchell (Penobscot), Jennifer Pictou (Mi’kmaq) and Dwayne Tomah (Passamaquoddy) along with Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy), the Executive Director & Senior Partner to the Wabanaki Nations at the Abbe Museum. They will each share how storytelling is a part of their own lives and discuss the role of storytelling in the Wabanaki community. What is so unique and special about this conversation is the diversity of these storytellers – both in their styles and stories. 

Images of John Bear Mitchell (Penobscot), Jennifer Pictou (Mi'kmaq), Dwayne Tomah (Passamaquoddy), and Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy)

John Bear Mitchell (Penobscot), Jennifer Pictou (Mi’kmaq),
Dwayne Tomah (Passamaquoddy), and Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy)

In Indigenous communities, storytelling is an oral tradition through which history and worldview are passed along to younger generations. These stories provide essential knowledge to communities on how to build relationships with each other and the world around them – how to be good humans in this world. Storytellers are respected community members who have developed their craft over years and years.

It is also important to honor that not that long ago, the act of telling these stories was forbidden by both the federal government and the state of Maine. We acknowledge the harm that was done through this violence to Indigenous peoples and their culture.

We hope that you will join us on Tuesday, May 25th for this conversation that will undoubtedly be essential and uplifting.