The Star-Herald

Grant to help revive Maliseet art forms

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Nichole Francis, CEO of the Penobscot Boys and Girls Club, has announced that the Maine Community Foundation has approved a grant under the Belvedere Traditional Handcrafts Fund.

The grant will allow the Houlton Band of Maliseets to bring elder artists together with youth from the Maliseet Boys and Girls Club (one of several native clubs, including the Presque Isle Boys and Girls Club, under the Penobscot BGC’s umbrella) in a mentoring relationship to revive their traditional art forms like basket making, quill work and beading.

Carolyn Anderson, club coordinator and tribal member, will oversee the recruiting and hiring of a full-time program coordinator. Maliseet Tribal Chief Clarissa Sabattis will engage members of the tribe to share with the club’s youth their knowledge of the culture and traditional art forms. Nichole Francis will assist with program scheduling, implementation and grant reporting.

Maliseet Tribal Elders Fred and Bill Tomah are already on board and eager to work with the youth. The vision is one of youth and elder, learning and sharing. Reviving the Maliseet culture and language while passing on their traditional arts is the major goal.

The finished artwork will be on display in the Houlton Maliseet community during a special event called “Native Traditional Skills Showing.” Elders and youth, together will demonstrate their skills, display their artwork and demonstrate their language skills.

As an added incentive Starr Kelly, curator of education for Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, will coordinate and select items to be displayed at the museum.

The Presque Isle club will host “family engagement” nights where the artists will show off their work. These dates are not set yet, said club officials.

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