C: Collaborative Archaeological Research

The Museum develops and disseminates new knowledge and understanding through collaborative models of archaeological research.


• Create an archaeology advisory committee that includes archaeologists from outside Maine who have experience with collaborative models

• Convene conversations/dialogues where all stakeholders express views

• Develop a research agenda


• Create materials for archaeologists, lay people, and museums that share concepts, words, and phrases that are appropriate/constructive and those that are not when talking about Wabanaki history before colonization

• Educate visitors about the role of archaeology in understanding and interpreting Wabanaki history, in the context of multiple ways of knowing about the past


• Work towards developing a truly collaborative and interdisciplinary way of doing archaeology

• Develop a new model for field research, consistent with collaborative practices and cognizant of sites that may be endangered

• Complete analysis and dissemination of the archaeological work that has been done by the field schools


  • Since our founding in 1926, the Abbe’s focused on collecting, preserving, and interpreting the archaeological record of the region, and we have been doing archaeological research in the Wabanaki homeland since 1928. However, like most archaeological work in North America, this was typically not a collaborative or inclusive experience for Wabanaki people. In 2017 we convened a outstanding group of knowledge-keepers from the Wabanaki communities and the field of archaeology to help us assess where we are, think about what role archaeological research, collections, and interpretation should have in the Wabanaki homeland, and to bring current best practices in Indigenous archaeologies to shape the future of our work at the Abbe and Acadia National Park (ANP). ANP supported this first convening and their resource managers participated to listen and learn about issues of heritage resources stewardship, and to collaborate with the Abbe and Wabanaki Nations to protect those resources.  ANP will ultimately develop a protocol, inspired by our work, that may be adopted across the National Park Service. The second convening is planned for spring 2019, and will also be funded by ANP. Moving forward, the guiding question for us is: What are the questions archaeology can answer for Wabanaki people?
  • As we seek to respond to this question, we know that we are of better service and reflective of decolonizing practice when we collaboratively build structures with Indigenous experts. For Phase 2 of this archaeological project, we will work with Indigenous archaeologists and select NPS staff to co-develop a research agenda and best practices for consultation. It is our intention to create a framework that can be replicated across NPS and integrated into the museum field. Additional outcomes are anticipated including interpretive changes around archaeological content, direct support for tribal work in archaeology, and archaeological collections are researched and published about in greater frequency.
  • Research and dissemination of the Abbe’s archaeological resources is slated for later in the plan’s timeline. We are also interested, through the full realization of our Decolonization Giving Circle, in hiring and supporting an Indigenous archaeologist/ scholar to lead the research and dissemination. Of note, the archaeological materials in collections are all now processed after a back log developed.

Only later (as an adult) I would find out how bold this (Abbe) Museum was in its desire to interact and learn from living Wabanaki people. When Maine’s archaeologists defined us as interlopers on our own land, the destroyers of the Red Paint people, and plundered the graves of our ancestors with impunity, the Abbe Museum welcomed dialogue, supported our artists, and honored our elders.  – David Moses Bridges, Passamaquoddy


When this goal is realized, the Abbe, tribal communities, and academia will be working in concert. New Abbe resources will attract researchers to its collections, and field work will continue with a clearly-defined, Wabanaki-supported, research agenda.


〈 B: Wabanaki Artists |   D: Historical and Contemporary Wabanaki Collection 〉