Wabanaki program returns to Salt Bay Farm

Wabanaki program returns to Salt Bay Farm

Learning about the Wabanaki of the past and present

It was a joy this fall to be able to once again offer the Wabanaki program in person to AOS 93 school groups. One grade from each of the schools (Bristol Consolidated School, Great Salt Bay Community School, Jefferson Village School, Lincoln Academy, Nobleboro Central School, and South Bristol School) participated, as well as one from outside the district, for a total of about 200 students from third grade through high school.

Available to area school groups every October, the Wabanaki Program teaches Wabanaki material culture through hands-on experiences, games, and storytelling. The program is taught in collaboration with Native American educators and takes place at Coastal Rivers Salt Bay Farm in Damariscotta. It offers a unique opportunity for students to connect the past to the present-day culture of Wabanaki people.

students bundling grass for wigwams

Students learn how to make bundles of grass to cover the wigwams.

Sandra Bassett was our Wabanaki Educator this fall. Sandra brought stories, language lessons, drumming and dancing to our programs. The students were enthralled as she sang in Passamaquoddy, drummed and danced on the hill at Salt Bay Farm. She demonstrated a ceremony performed when two chiefs meet, and she sang children’s songs in Passamaquoddy and taught students the words.

student showing off a groundnut

A student shows off a groundnut (edible wild tuber) she dug up on Blackstone Point.

School groups spend the entire day at Salt Bay Farm rotating through a variety of activities. This year, in addition to singing, drumming, and storytelling with Sandra, students tried birch bark etching, built wigwams and made grass mats to cover them, and dug ground nuts (an edible wild tuber).

Feedback from students, parents and teachers has been enthusiastic. One parent shared with us that her son “came home after his field trip and spent the entire afternoon outside in our woods building a shelter. He was clearly very inspired. This is the boy who lately only wants to be inside playing Minecraft. Thank you GSB and Coastal Rivers!”

Ann Allen, a teacher from Friendship Village School, wrote us to say, “I had a student bring her own notebook and take notes on the Wabanaki language. The excitement of finding and trying the Queen’s Ann Lace carrots was obvious in my student’s discussions on the bus ride home. They couldn’t wait to go home and share what they learned with their parents.”

school group walking through the field with Sandra Bassett

Photo credits: Sandra Bassett drumming, students making grass bundles, and group in the field by Kris Christine.