Commissioned Maine Artist by Portland Ovations
The land and waters known as Maine have been home to Wabanaki People
for over 12,000 years. This vibrant exploration of Wabanaki histories and cultures spotlights three Wabanaki storytellers coming from three different nations and storytelling traditions. Jennifer Pictou (Mi’kmaq) regales with spirit stories told in the company of large puppets; Dwayne Tomah (Passamaquoddy), the youngest fluent speaker of Passamaquoddy, shares stories that showcase his native language; and John Bear Mitchell (Penobscot) captures the imagination with tales of Espun, a trickster. Artist and author Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy) intersperses each story with music and narration.
Part of the Seeking Resonance series.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2023 – 3PM
MERRILL AUDITORIUM, PORTLAND
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Wheelchair accessible, Assisted hearing available. This performance will be ASL interpreted. Read more about accessibility at Merrill Auditorium.
Jennifer Pictou (Mi’kmaq) is a member of the Mi’kmaq Nation (formerly the Aroostook Band of Micmac). She is a professional storyteller, artist, and historian as well as owner of a nationally renowned tour company, Bar Harbor Ghost Tours. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts, a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, and A Masters Degree in American and New England Studies. Jennifer describes her art style as a mix of traditional Mi’kmaq forms with an Art Deco flair. Her original bead designs involve intricate traditional double curves and floral patterns beaded into exquisite limited edition handbags and wall art. Currently Jennifer is also studying and is a founding member of a group reviving traditional Mi’kmaq porcupine quill embroidery.
Dwayne Tomah (Passamaquoddy) is a teacher of the Passamaquoddy language and culture. He is the youngest fluent speaker of the Passamaquoddy tribe today. He has worked on language and cultural preservation his entire life. Dwayne has worked with Animal Planet on a segment on winged creatures. He edited the Passamaquoddy dictionary and is a former Tribal Council Member. Dwayne is currently working with Library of Congress on Passamaquoddy Wax cylinders. These recordings are the first recordings in the world. The wax cylinders were recorded by Jessie Walter Fukes, who borrowed the device from the inventor of the wax cylinder machine, Thomas Edison, and recorded the Passamaquoddys in 1890.
John Bear Mitchell (Penobscot) is a citizen of the Penobscot Nation from Indian Island in Maine. He presently serves as the University of Maine System Office Native American Waiver and Educational Program Coordinator, University of Maine’s Wabanaki Center Outreach and Student Development Coordinator, as well as, a Lecturer of Wabanaki Studies and Multicultural Studies at the University of Maine in Orono. He has served on numerous museum and educational boards throughout the state with missions based on Maine’s Wabanaki people. For 15 years John visited schools in Maine as a Maine Touring Artist delivering an Arts in Education program. During that time, he visited over 150 schools. While working his way through college, he toured with the Native American Storytellers of New England. He presented a traditional and contemporary program in Native American Stories and Song. His singing and storytelling can be heard in many Maine PBS, tribal-sponsored awareness videos, independent film, HBO Lionsgate TV, and many documentaries with topics on Maine’s Native People.