Bibliography Bingo at the Nylander

15 years ago

    Bingo at the Nylander Museum in Caribou? This is different from what you might expect. For the first time ever in the County, a bingo session that’s not the usual game plan — no printed grid sheets, no daubers, no numbers being called. It’s Bibliography Bingo and will take place at the museum on Thursday, July 29. A meet and greet will be from 4:30 to 5 p.m. with bibliography bingo running from 5 to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be available and two prizes awarded.
    Jeanie McGowan, director of the museum, explained that the Nylander Bingo is more than a bit unusual — it’s unique. “This workshop on July 29, is one part of the Nylander’s commitment to supporting the implementation of the LD291 state mandate to include Maine’s indigenous people when teaching history in Maine schools. Our goal is to highlight resources that accurately and appropriately depict Indian people vs. those that are inaccurate, stereotype Indian people, or misrepresent their history.”
    “The Bingo session is really a game-style review of books and media currently in Aroostook County libraries about the American Indian,” McGowan added, “the Nylander has compiled a list of authors and titles gathered from some of the country’s most respected sources like the Mashantucket-Pequot Museum Research Library, the Oyate Web site, the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, and others. A list of those resources that have been culturally reviewed and recommended as acceptable for learning about American Indian cultures will be called off in a bingo-like fashion while participants mark in green highlighting the author-title entries that appear on whatever library’s list or bibliography they have on their clipboard. Similarly, those titles that have been reviewed and recommended against will be called off and marked with red highlighters.”
    McGowan continued, “The result will be a colorful document — one per participating library — that will then be sent back to that library to help staff review the quality and quantity of resources at their site.”
    Eighteen public libraries in Aroostook County were contacted months ago and asked to join the project. All enthusiastically agreed to be part of the resource review and learn about their resources, McGowan said.
    “Considering the fact that the entire County’s public library system has agreed to undergo this scrutiny is a spectacular statement about County people and a major coupe for those interested in equity and education. This has never been done anywhere else to my knowledge,” said McGowan. “We stand alone—as we so often do in Aroostook—to create a new model for change — a path for institutions, communities, schools, and tribes to work together to positively affect the future of all our children and their children.”
    In 2005 when the state finalized the LD291 law to include study of Maine’s Wabanaki cultures, community schools were handed the task of developing their own individualized curriculum and classroom support systems. Schools and teachers were somewhat on their own to find resource materials and begin the implementation process. Many resources are available about American Indian cultures, but not all are accurate and appropriate. Identifying good resource material from poor or inappropriate material is a challenge and very time-consuming. Time for research is a rare commodity for most teachers.
    McGowan also explained, “When I began to search through written and online resources that support learning, it was apparent that very little about the Aroostook County Indians was available. Although their 10,000-plus year-old ancestry originates in Canadain, their federally recognized presence in the United States is more recent, which creates a separate and unique ‘modern’ history that cannot be gleaned from Canadian resources. It was very clear that resources on the American Mi’kmaq and Maliseet tribes were limited. Teaching appropriately and accurately about their individual cultures would depend heavily on input from the tribes and was a far greater challenge without an abundance of educational materials. I was soon in way over my head, but committed to finding some avenue to be supportive.”   
    Caribou’s Nylander Museum has three main goals intended to support the LD291 mandate. The museum will coordinate Bibliography Bingo workshops to review library resources in Aroostook County community libraries, using nationally accepted resources as cross-referencing materials. The Nylander’s own small library of recommended American Indian resources will remain at the museum during summer months and circulate throughout the County during the school year. With the help and guidance from the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet people, a team will construct two classroom kits — one about the Maliseet people and one about the Mi’kmaq people. Kits will contain teacher guides and student books, videos, hands-on cultural items, internet recommendations, lessons, activities, and cultural comparisons to other Indian cultures for teachers and students to learn about each tribe and gain understanding of the history and cultures of Maine’s first people. The museum will also develop and coordinate professional development and educational opportunities for Aroostook County educators.
    “We’re looking for volunteers to attend Bibliography Bingo on the 29th — hoping to have a large team of interested folks to man the bibliography clipboards and colored highlighters. The first half-hour will be refreshments and mixer time to review the Nylander library materials, learn more about the project, and meet others interested in LD291. We will have a drawing for Bingo prizes at the completion of the project, which may take more than one workshop. Please consider that we have seriously important work to do starting at 5 p.m. and that this is an adult venue,” stated McGowan. “It is not necessary to have any former experience or training to participate. We welcome all with an interest to join us, even if you wish not to play bingo.”
    In order to facilitate the bingo workshop, RSVPs are requested, sent either by telephone (493-4209) or by e-mail ( or by mail (Nylander, 657 Main St, Caribou, ME  04736).
    For more information contact McGowan or Liz Maifeld at the Nylander,  493-4209.