Wabanaki Traditions Come to Life at DRA

Wabanaki Traditions Come to Life at DRA

girls working with reed canary grass to cover wigwams

Wabanaki tales and traditions came to life for over 350 students, teachers and parents from ten local schools this fall. Participants in DRA’s Wabanaki Education Program learned through hands-on experiences as they etched birch bark, made grass mats for wigwams, built emergency shelters in the woods, dug for groundnuts and sampled a variety of wild edibles.

As Education Director Sarah Gladu explains, “The authentic experience of working with natural materials not only teaches history and culture, but also promotes DRA’s mission to connect students with this landscape.”

Behind the tremendous success of this program is David Moses Bridges, the Passamaquoddy educator who partners with Gladu to make the experience come alive. “He [Bridges] is an extraordinary educator. Through stories told to him by his elders, his artwork and his skill with birch bark, he connects students to the Wabanaki culture in a profound way. When David talks about ‘the ancestors’ and their relationship to this landscape, the cultural bond to this place becomes real for his listeners.”

The Wabanaki program is just one of many school programs taking place at DRA. Since September 1, the DRA education program has provided educational opportunities to over 740 students of all ages from schools ranging from Gray to Camden. The programs focus on natural science, but vary widely in topic, from tree identification to squid dissection.

Click on any image to open the gallery.