Staff Writer

Organizers of a living history museum aimed at showing how native Americans once lived in Maine have found property in Gardiner where they hopes to erect a permanent village.

The board of directors of the Odamogan Living History Museum, which has been operating out of an office in Litchfield, has signed a letter of intent to purchase property on Cobbosseecontee Stream behind the Lapointe Lumber facility just off U.S. Route 201.

Jonathan D. Yellowbear, board president and one of the living history presenters, said the group will now begin fundraising in earnest to secure $212,000 needed to buy the 57-acre parcel from Goodall Properties.

“Once we get the property, we’ll be eligible to get matching National Endowment for the Arts grants,” Yellowbear said.

The organizers hope to bring history to life in “an interactive full-scale village set in the 1600s where native history comes to life,” according to a prepared statement from Yellowbear. “Visitors will see, hear, smell and get a sense of what life was like living the way the Eastern Abenaki did in the interior on the Cobbosseecontee, fishing hunting and farming.”

Yellowbear said the living history museum generally does about a dozen presentations a year, mostly for school children.

The land purchase is the third phase of a 12-step project aimed at sustaining the museum.

“Not only will Odamogan Living History Museum create and stimulate economic growth, eventually we will be able to have volunteers and also employ several people to make this museum a unique and memorable experience for all that visit the site,” he said.

Yellowbear said the site, which is to include an Eastern Abenaki palisaded village, will help school teachers fulfill the mandate to teach Maine native American history and culture.

Steve Musica, of Richmond, said he joined the board several years ago after meeting Yellowbear while doing research on how to make shingles of birch bark and cattails for wigwams for a school presentation.

“The kids are interested in how the native Americans lived,” Musica said. “The Eastern Abenaki were in this territory when the Europeans arrived in the first part of the 1600s.”

The organization is nonprofit, so contributions are tax deductible. They may be sent to Odamogan Living History Museum, PO Box 254, 23 Wabenaki Lane, Litchfield, ME 04350-0254.

“We need some serious benefactors to make this thing happen,” Musica said. “We’re also seeking members.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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