The Abbe (Smithsonian) Museum. Why “Bar” Harbor?

8 May

At low tide, a sand bar reveals itself between the mainland and an Island just offshore. Easily stable enough to take the heaviest US pickup truck, it can be a lovely walk to part of the Acadia National Park protected island. Although a little cloudy , there was only very light, odd spots of drizzle to marr our strole but the wind was quite chill , blowing offshore. This sand bar is what gives “Bar” Harbor it’s name. It had previously been called Eden after  a founding father.

Earlier that day we had visited the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor. There is another sister museum located up in the National Park, high above the coastline. Dedicated to the plight of the local American Indian tribe(s), it was captivating and disturbing in it’s description of the past and how Europeans treated the indiginous Wabanaki from around the 15 th Century right up to very recent decades. Nothing to be proud of , I am afraid.

There were a lot of quite wordy posters, which made for some revealing reading. The tribes were craftsmen, making canoes, baskets and using quite primitive tools. One tribe specialised in fishing with spears and dieted mainly on salmon. At one point the “authorities” banned this practice in another act of alienation.

One very moving video showed a middle aged Wabanaki describing his father’s and grandfather’s way of life. Sadly, he himself had worked in a modern boatyard. Years of sanding down and working on a variety of modern materials had contributed to him being diagnosed with (lung) cancer. It was significant that he stressed to others ,in the same occupation, to always wear face masks, something that he had not done himself.

The verbal history, myths and legends and the way that they thought of the world and life itself may hold some lessons for those amongst us who , shall we say, are somewhat spiritual in their outlook.

There is some evidence that the Native Americans followed the last ice sheets north as they retreated. That’s some 12,000 years ago. Hunting, fishing, farming of vegetables and harvesting fruits and berries, they lead an active, healthy lifestyle. Take what you want to eat but eat what you take. Tread lightly upon the Earth and leave the lightest footprint or none at all.

I have a massive stock of photographs to collate and enough material to research for a whole new Blog. Writer’s block????? come to historical USA.


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