Penobscot Elder’s Work Now Displayed At Abbe Museum 

Two artists from the Penobscot Nation have made a special donation to the abbe museum in Bar Harbor. It’s a piece that’s taken nearly a quarter of a century to finish.Watie Akins, a Penobscot Nation elder, says the journey of this drum has now come full circle. Akins presented the drum he handcrafted to the abbe museum. It will be displayed in a room he helped build. “It’s just a load off my mind to have it down here,” Akins says, “now I know it’s safe.”Akins said he spotted the piece of wood he used to make the drum 25 years ago while on a hunting trip. He’s spent years working on it in his spare time. When he lost the use of his right hand, Akins had to ask for a little help from his friend. Tribal historian and artist James Francis. “He’s been an engineer all of his life and he drew beautiful graphic art work in his day and now he can’t do that and so I felt it was an honor that he asked me to follow through with his vision,” Francis says.The two friends finished the project and presented it to the Abbe. When the drum is placed the right way, the colors symbolize the four directions north, south, east, and west. The logo in the middle of the drum is quickly becoming fodder for conversation. “There’s an image of a native american holding a bow and arrow, but I see other things,” says Francis. “I see his head as the rising sun and we are the people of the rising sun.”Akins says it wouldn’t be possible without the help of his friend. “I’d probably still be sitting there. Sitting on the reservation saying okay what do I do next?”