Peter Moore

Peter Moore III, a master craftsman of Native American artistry who worked to preserve Passamaquoddy arts and culture, died Saturday at his Indian Township home. He was 65.

Moore, a Passamaquoddy, is best known for his intricate carvings that depict images of wildlife such as an eagle, a hawk and a bear. He created prayer sticks, walking sticks and paddles. He also made leather moccasins and pouches.

Donald Soctomah, the Indian Township Tribal Historian, commissioned many pieces from Moore. In 2006, one of Moore’s hand-carved prayer staffs was presented to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez after Maine Natives brokered a successful deal for oil with the country.

“His work was gorgeous,” said Mary Klement of Westbrook, Moore’s second cousin. “It holds to the tradition of Native Americans. It glowed with his pride for his culture.”

Moore was remembered Tuesday as a strong and stoic man. He was the first generation born off the reservation. Known by many as Manzy, he grew up in Portland’s Kennedy Park neighborhood and graduated from Portland High School.

An obituary published in Wednesday’s newspaper said Moore worked for the city of Portland. Klement didn’t know what type of work he did of the city, but said he worked as a laborer throughout his life.

She reminisced about her early years Tuesday recalling the days Moore would whip kids across a skating pond in South Portland. He would hold one end of a long rope with a handful of kids clinging to the other end, she said.

“We could always count on Manzy to give us the best whip,” Klement said. “Manzy would run down the ice and then whip us. We would go flying across the ice. It was really cool. … Kids delighted in seeing him. He had enough in him to act like a kid and be totally OK with it. Then, walk on and be the man he was.”

Moore had strong ancestral roots at Pleasant Point Reservation and settled in Indian Township about 20 years ago.

He learned to whittle from his father and other Passamaquoddy elders. Pictures of his work depict images and scenes of wildlife that appear to come to life on the wood.

Moore taught the craft to many people over the years, including children at community events and fairs.

Klement said he had a passion for his craft.

“He could sit and do it and he didn’t have to talk to a soul,” she said. “He used his hands and created beauty and I think that’s what spoke for him. He made his mark in the world on a piece of wood.”

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