Last week we welcomed Ron and Nick Bear, core members of the Burnurwurbskek Singers, to school. Comprised of men representing many of Maine’s Wabanaki people (including the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Mic Mac tribes), the members of the Burnurwurbskek Singers have been drumming together for almost 25 years. They perform traditional northeast woodland songs, as well as more contemporary, intertribal songs.
Over the course of the day, the singers visited the first, second, and third grade classrooms, and hosted assemblies for the High School, Grades 6-8, and Grades 4-5. The father/son duo spoke to our community about their lived experiences as Native people in Maine, performed a variety of songs, and answered many student questions.
Coordinator of Music Education Jennifer McLeod-Marenghi, who invited the group to campus, first met Nick Bear earlier this year at an Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration. “He’s got a great voice and the music is really beautiful,” she explained. “The way that he answered sensitive questions was so graceful and warm, I thought more people needed to see him.”
Their visit will also allow a chance for our music program to better incorporate and better understand Wabanaki culture and better integrate it into the curriculum. “We don’t know enough about music from here,” said McLeod-Marenghi. “Too often we think of new cultural experiences as being from far away. These singers are only a couple of hours away from us and represent a culture that is 6,000 years old.”
“Anytime we get to share our culture and our music is a good day for us,” Ron Bear told grades 6-8 at the end of their assembly.
You can learn more about the Burnurwurbskek Singers here.