D: Historical and Contemporary Wabanaki Collection

The Museum stewards and provides access to collections that represent historical and contemporary Wabanaki people.


• Make the non-archaeological collections database accessible online

UPDATE: With successful grant awards from the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Community Foundation, we have started the process of sharing our collections online. We launched the site in late summer 2016 with a small sample of our collections.

This summer we will submit a grant proposal to support a collaboration between the museum and Wabanaki communities to pilot a process in which the Abbe provides collections information to the source community- images, catalog records, etc. Tribal members, through whatever organization the tribe has in place or wants to try out, will then review the information, and provide feedback to the Abbe about what can be shared, how it should be used, and other considerations. We will use a tool called TK Labels (Traditional Knowledge Labels), a system which has been developed in collaboration with a number of Native/First Nations communities to tag their cultural heritage wherever it appears online. These labels are based on guidance or cultural protocols developed by the source community about things like who should have access to the information, whether it has been approved/validated by that community, how it should be used, and other categories like seasonality and gender. They have been developed at least in part to address the ways in which copyright either does not cover the type of material or knowledge, or where copyright is inadequate to protect cultural knowledge.

• Re-assess collections regarding the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) eligibility and respond to inquiries and claims in the spirit of collaboration and shared interest

UPDATE: The Abbe has applied for a grant from the National Park Service National NAGPRA program to renew consultation with the Wabanaki Repatriation Committee regarding archaeological collections at the museum. The primary focus of this phase of consultation will be on ancestral belongings recovered from burials where the physical ancestral remains are no longer visible, or where the belongings have been separated from the people before coming into the museum. Under NAGPRA these cultural materials are referred to as unassociated funerary objects.

• Develop a Friends of the Collection program

UPDATE: This fund was created with an initial gift in 2012. Since then we have attracted additional gifts and collections acquisitions are made annually with this fund. In 2017 we will initiate a fundraising campaign to replenish the fund.


• Make the archaeological collections database accessible online

• Document Wabanaki knowledge about the collection

• Consult with Wabanaki spiritual leaders (advocates for the ancestors) and other tribal community members on the treatment and disposition of collection items excavated from burial sites

• Begin to inventory Wabanaki objects in other museums, other institutions, and private collections


• Develop a tiered collections model to increase physical access to collections, ability to do outreach exhibits, etc.

• Review and revise the collecting plan


When this goal is realized, the Abbe collections of Wabanaki material culture will be growing and will be visible and accessible to a much broader audience. Wabanaki curators will offer enriched interpretive content for the collections catalog and will be empowered in collections decisions.


〈 C: Collaborative Archaeological ResearchE: Strategic Alliances to Achieve Mission