Title: The Story Teller

Image size: 24 x 20 inches

Medium: Colored and graphite pencils, acrylic, watercolor and ink.
In the collection of the Abbe Museum

The Story Teller is a portrait of Tomah Joseph, (1827 – 1914) - Passamaquoddy chief, artist and keeper of the creation stories passed down by generations of elders. He is depicted holding a birch bark “Mocuck” created by his own hand. He was a prolific artist and two major themes dominate his work: accounts of Passamaquoddy life and the stories of creation.  In his art, we often find the words “Mikwid hamin” (Remember me) incised into his bark work because by remembering something, we keep it alive. In relating these stories we hear the elders speak across the ages. Tomah kept them vital by retelling them and by illustrating them in his work.

His scenes of Passamaquoddy life depict families in camp, hunting, or traveling in canoes or on foot and they dominate the surface of his birch bark creations. The frequency of the owl’s appearance in his art suggest that it may have been his personal mark or he may have considered it to be a spirit guide or helper.

Through his artwork, he was able to support his family and maintain his cultural identity and in so doing he also helped preserve the collective identity of his people.