The University of Maine and the Penobscot Nation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in May, formalizing their collaborations in the past decade to help manage the tribe’s cultural heritage.
The MOU focuses on five UMaine areas, in keeping with “a new model of collaboration with universities that hold and care for collections considered important and vital to the present and future cultural life of the Penobscot Nation.” The Penobscot Nation will help integrate the tribe’s perspectives into UMaine research processes and collections that involve Penobscot people and their heritage. UMaine will work to begin implementing the new Penobscot Traditional Knowledge (TK) Labels to aid in the respectful and appropriate use of cultural materials.
UMaine’s Anthropology Department holds collections of Penobscot archaeo-logical heritage. In addition, Penobscot collections and cultural heritage items are held at the Hudson Museum and Special Collections of Raymond H. Fogler Library.
“The MOU demonstrates that the University of Maine is an international leader in collaborating with indigenous peoples,” says Darren Ranco, UMaine associate professor of anthropology, chair of Native American Programs and faculty fellow at the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions. “Only a small number of universities in North America have made similar commitments to work directly with a tribal nation to protect its cultural heritage.”
Among the Hudson Museum’s holdings are over 900 examples of the material culture of Maine’s Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot peoples, and hundreds of historic images. The assemblage includes brown ash splint and sweetgrass basketry dating from 1850 to the present, along with an important collection of basket making tools and molds, birchbark containers, root clubs, crooked knives, snowshoes, beadwork and three full-size canoes. More than 400 of the objects in the collection are Penobscot.