The Museum is a responsible and ethical steward of all the assets entrusted to it.
• Secure grant and donor funding for all new initiatives and programs
• Create a supportive environment for Wabanaki people at every level of decision-making, including governance, leadership, and staff (paid and unpaid)
• Develop and implement a plan for increasing the number of Wabanaki people on the Board
• Invest in professional development and training for staff, board, and volunteers to enable the Museum to work towards a decolonized approach to every aspect of its work
• Develop and implement a capital improvement plan for building and facilities
• Develop and implement plans for enhancing the front entrance
• Implement environmentally sustainable practices throughout the Museum
• Plan a capital and endowment campaign
• Review policies and procedures (ethics policy, collections management policy, personnel policy, board procedures) mindful of the principles and goals of decolonization
• Work towards consensus-based board operations and protocols
• Initiate capital and endowment campaign
- One of the important promises made with the launch of this ambitious plan was that funding for these initiatives must come from new sources and cannot erode operating funds. Successful grant from federal agencies – IMLS, NEH, and NPS – have certainly fulfilled this promise. In addition we launched our Giving Circles that reflect mission-driven activity that is prioritized in our strategic plan. Donors are asked to give to these Circles with the knowledge that they are supporting the cost of fulfilling our mission; it is a way for major donors to connect more deeply with our mission and to receive concentrated stewardship and opportunities to engage in curated “thank you” events and experiences. For example, in 2018, the donors to the newly formed Decolonization Circle were invited to join the Abbe staff during Community Days at Penobscot Nation. Special experiences were designed for them while there. We’ve identified three more circles to launch in 2019 – education, art and artists, and collections and research.
- To help us steward our buildings, we launched a Greening the Abbe initiative before this current plan, in 2012. This plan identifies greening projects as a decolonizing activity and we’ve successfully continued. Building off a series of NEH grant awards, we also benefited from the Grants to Green program which providing funding for a building assessment and then follow-up implementation funds. Most recently, we signed a contract to install the first public, electric vehicle charging station in the town of Bar Harbor. This is made possible through funding provided by A Climate to Thrive. The station will located and operational by AMIM 2019 in our back parking lot, along with clear signage.
- With the partial completion of our Decolonization Policy in 2016, we also drafted a protocol around board governance that specified a new structure. This protocol, among other topics, specifies that the Board will achieve parity between Wabanaki and non-Wabanaki people by 2021. As conversations with the board and council developed out of this policy and protocol, we also increased communications with the Council and eventually convened two joint meetings between Council and Board (2017 and 2018). This has led to a new, restructuring conversation that is still evolving. It is our plan to have a third joint meeting in spring 2019 to map roles and responsibilities. This is especially exciting because in August 2018, the board became majority Indigenous. What are the roles of each group now? What is a decolonizing governance structure?
- With a successful 2017 grant award of $50,000 we launched a workplace inclusion initiative to work in tandem with our decolonization initiative. It became apparent that this work requires us to dismantle racism in museum spaces and without intensive training for the staff and Board in Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion strategies, we are going to miss the mark and create new forms of harm. IMLS launched a new Museums Empowered program and it was a perfect match for our training needs. We have completed our intensive training cycle and are now forming next steps and fulfilling our cultural competency plans.
Accompaniment, when rooted in decolonized practice is rooted in free, prior, and informed consent of participating communities or Peoples. The process relies upon the conscious and constant refinement of intent and impact. It is grounded in “walking with” and servant leadership; acknowledges that “this is their house,” and we are “available” to share responsibility. An accompaniment project results in social change through sharing knowledge of and access to oppressive systems, not by acting as a gate-keeper. – Jamie Bissonette Lewey, Abenaki, and Ka Bal Pinguel
When this goal is realized, Wabanaki people will be influential decision-makers throughout the organization. In addition, the Abbe will operate with sustainable funding and the Museum’s facilities will benefit from plans and funding necessary to carry out preventative and deferred maintenance.