Creating economic opportunity for tribal members that is aligned with cultural values is central to supporting sustainable economic growth in the Wabanaki communities. Four Directions has launched new pilot Wabanaki Marketplace initiatives this year which include an online Wabanaki art marketplace, an art branding program, and a youth/master artisan mentorship program.
The Wabanaki Marketplace will serve as an economic development resource for Maine Wabanaki artisans enrolled in any one of the five Wabanaki tribal communities in the state. Artisans only have access to a handful of in-state markets for six months out of the year. While a select few artisans have access to national juried competitions and markets, such as a the Santa Fe Indian Market and the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market, most artisans lack a customer base beyond Maine markets. In order to facilitate the strengthening of this creative economy, the goals for the Wabanaki Marketplace are three-fold:
- Increase online sales of Wabanaki art: FDDC is working to expand the customer base of Wabanaki artisans through the creation of an online marketplace (www.wabanakimarketplace.com) featuring and promoting artisans from each of the four Wabanaki tribes. The Wabanaki Marketplace is structured as a nonprofit social enterprise, and will feature authentic Wabanaki art for sale, as well as stories about artists and artist statements. Any funds that we use to purchase inventory will, when the items are sold, return to a revolving fund that will be used to purchase more inventory from artists to feature on the site.
- Increase national awareness of Wabanaki art forms: FDDC will raise awareness of authentic Wabanaki art through the Wabanaki Branding Program. Wabanaki art is not as well known in the Native American art market as tribes such as the Navajo, Lakota, Pueblo, and Salish. Maine Wabanaki artisans will receive branding tags featuring an “Art of the Maine Wabanaki” logo authenticating their work in compliance with the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, a truth-in-advertising law prohibiting misrepresentation of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States. Use of the tag, logo, and our marketing efforts will increase awareness and appreciation of Wabanaki art.
- Promote the continuation of Wabanaki art forms: FDDC will provide an opportunity for the transmission of cultural knowledge between youth and elders through an arts apprenticeship program. The Wabanaki Marketplace: Youth & Culture Program allows Wabanaki youth to learn a craft under the guidance of a master artisan while also providing them with professional development skills to promote and strengthen their businesses at the close of the program. Professional development trainings are provided in cooperation with the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance.
For more information on FDDC’s artisan programming, contact Frances Soctomah at 207.866.6545.