The photograph shows Watie Akins playing a Wabanaki Welcome Song at the Building Bridges between Archives and Indian Communities conference that was held at the American Philosophical Society in May 2010. Tim Powell, Director of Native American Projects, is shown in his primary role of amplifying the voices of Native American elders and wisdom keepers. The turtle painted on the hand drum symbolizes the animal on whose back the world is built. It is a fitting images to conclude this exhibit, for we hope that the partnerships forged during the conference will prove to be the foundation on which a strong and enduring reciprocal relationship will be built.
Through Indigenous Eyes
Penobscot - Penobscot
The storyteller, Watie Akins, is a distinguished elder from the Penobscot Nation and an accomplished musician. He has made two CDs of traditional music of the Wabanaki Confederacy (made up of the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, and Abenaki nations). The photographs are from the Frank G. Speck collection, which Watie also used as a resource in researching his reinterpretation of traditional music. Watie recounts some of his family stories about Speck doing field work in the region and identifies his grandfather in one of the photographs taken by Speck. As a young man, Watie worked with the linguist Frank Siebert, whose papers are housed at the American Philosophical Society. He is currently leading a project to revitalize the Penobscot language by creating an English – Penobscot dictionary from materials in the Siebert collection.