Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology

Review: Gather. Make. Sustain. Spring 2021 Virtual Series

Thank you to everyone who joined the Haffenreffer Museum for Gather. Make. Sustain., a virtual series of workshops, artist talks, and demonstrations featuring Indigenous artists who work in a variety of mediums. During the spring semester, these artists shared how they create environmentally and culturally sustainable artwork, as well as maintain traditional knowledge systems through the act of gathering materials and stories. 

The Gather. Make. Sustain. was supported by generous donations to the Barbara Greenwald Memorial Arts Program fund, and we appreciate all of those who joined us for these special events.  

Leah Hopkins | Maple Madness!

March 3rd, 2021

For the first event in the series, Museum Community Engagement Specialist Leah Hopkins (Narragansett) demonstrated the processing of maple sap into maple syrup and maple sugar.  Participants learned about Indigenous practices of harvesting and processing sap and the significance of maples in Northeastern Indigenous communities.

Jannette Vanderhoop | Artist Talk

March 10th

Jannette Vanderhoop (Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head [Aquinnah]) shared her traveling exhibit of “treasure boxes.” This body of work was created over the course of 10 years and is paired with original poems that weave a story of timeless global connectivity. She also discussed what it means to be a professional contemporary Indigenous artist, highlighting grassroots efforts in her community to educate the public and to encourage the next generation.

Elizabeth James-Perry | Wampanoag Textile Arts: A Fingerweaving Workshop

March 17th

The third event in the series was a special hands-on workshop focused on fingerweaving the diagonal stripe pattern with Aquinnah Wampanoag master weaver, Elizabeth James-Perry. This style of weaving is an elegantly simple Eastern Native American art form for creating long strips of patterned cloth in soft wool yarns.

This event was not recorded. 


Geo Neptune | Traditionally Contemporary

March 24th

For the fourth Gather. Make. Sustain. program, Passamaquoddy Master Basketmaker Geo Neptune (they/them) shared the history of Wabanaki black ash basketry and its inter-cultural significance throughout history, and how Neptune uses the themes of adaptation and resistance to create contemporary versions of traditional Wabanaki baskets.

Marlena Myles | Indigenous Narratives in a Modern Age

March 31st

In the fifth Gather. Make. Sustain. event, we looked at the ways Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscogee Creek) uses technology to relate and sustain ancient traditions into a new age. The modernity of digitalization has the ability to mix and combine the future with the past, bringing Indigenous understandings and philosophies into consciousness – a newfound awareness of Native presence.

Makana Kushi & Rae Kuruhara | Yarn Lei Workshop and Lei Hulu History

April 14th

For the final event in the series, participants learned how to make Hawaiian lei out of eyelash yarn, and explored the cultural and historical context of this kind of lei. As we spun the fluffy yarn to mimic the look of the Hawaiian finch feathers, participants also talked about how cultural practices like lei-making and gifting are tied to Indigenous land and sovereignty.

About the Artists

Headshot of Leah Hopkins with trees behind her. Leah Hopkins is a citizen of the Narragansett Indian Tribe and is the Community Engagement Specialist at the Museum. Leah holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Rhode Island, and has a background in museum and tribal education that spans over 10 years, working at both the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and with other regional institutions, organizations and tribal communities. Leah has done and continues to do extensive work within the New England region to promote the visibility, histories cultural complexities and cultural continuity of the area’s Indigenous peoples.

Sepia-colored selfie photo of Jannette Vanderhoop. Jannette Vanderhoop is an Indigenous entrepreneur From the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) on the island of Martha's Vineyard. She is a professional artist, published author/illustrator, master gardener, educator, and yoga instructor. She works with children and adults of all ages teaching nature-based themes. She is a trailblazer, a serious, accomplished, and prolific artist, she sells her work at the Vineyard Artisans’ Festivals in the summers. She sits on the board of directors for the Aquinnah Cultural Center and seeks to increase global visibility and connection of Eastern Seaboard Indigenous people through museum exhibits, community workshops, art shows, school visits, and urban and rural projects. With the desire to fight stereotypes as they relate to Native people, her work is decidedly contemporary.

Selfie of Elizabeth James-Perry with trees behind her. Elizabeth James-Perry is enrolled with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head -Aquinnah in Massachusetts.  An educator, exhibit designer and owner of Original Wampum Art, Elizabeth makes distinctive northeast wampum shell jewelry, porcupine quillwork, and northeastern twined textiles. She creates substantial heirloom quality adornment items reflecting Algonquian regional diplomatic heritage. She cultivates many of the plants used in natural dyes at her home in Dartmouth, Massachusetts; the rest are wild harvested in a sustainable way. As a member of a Nation that has long lived on, and harvested the sea, Elizabeth’s is a perspective that combines Algonquian traditional ecological knowledge, genealogy, art, and science in her ways of relating to life on the North Atlantic.  

Museums that have commissioned Elizabeth’s artwork include Fruitlands Museum, Concord Museum, the New England Museum, Heritage Plantation and Gardens, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Boston Children’s Museum, Haffenreffer Museum, and the Wallraf-Richartz in Cologne Germany. Her new recording about King Philips Sash, linking the rare textile into the story of colonization of Wampanoag and Wabanaki territory will be in the upcoming Hoist/Acknowledge + Listen exhibit as part of the initiative to replace the Massachusetts state seal. Film credits include producing the background scenery photography in Dartmouth for As Nutayunean, the Wampanoag Language Reclamation film. Among the tribal mentor’s she counts her mother Patricia James-Perry, a scrimshaw artist, illustrator, and educator, along with the educators Nanepashemut Tony Pollard and Helen Attaquin, who are her cousins. She was honored to be a 38th Voyager onboard the historic Charles W. Morgan whaling vessel, as a descendant of the Gay Head crewmembers. Elizabeth continues to shore up oral traditions, additionally conducting research in local and European museums and archival collections. The artist holds a degree in Marine Science from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. 

Photo of Geo Neptune sitting on rocks at the beach with their dog and wrapped in a purple blanket.
Photo credit: Sipsis Peciptaq Elamoqessik.

Geo Neptune (they/them) is a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe from Indian Township, Maine, and is a Master Basketmaker, a drag queen, an activist, an educator, and a two-spirit—an indigenous cultural, spiritual, and gender role that holds the sacred space between masculine and feminine energies.

Learning primarily under their grandmother Molly Neptune Parker, Geo has been weaving since they were four years old. At eleven years old, Geo began teaching with the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, and became the youngest person to receive the title of Master Basketmaker at twenty years old. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 2010, Geo returned home and began developing their individual artistic style of whimsical and historically informed basketry and woven jewelry. With the influence of their grandmother's style clearly visible in their work, Geo shows the closeness that the two shared, and the lifelong education Geo received through their grandmother's teachings. Molly Neptune Parker made her journey to be with the Ancestors in June of 2020. 

Selfie of Marlena Myles with tall grass behind her. Marlena Myles is a self-taught Native American (Spirit Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscogee) artist located in St Paul, Minnesota. Her art brings modernity to indigenous history, languages, and oral traditions. Growing up on her traditional Dakota homelands here in the Twin Cities, she enjoys using her artwork to teach Minnesotans of all backgrounds the indigenous history of this place we call home.

Her professional work includes children’s books, fabrics, animations, and fine art in galleries such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Museum of Russian Art, Red Cloud Heritage Center, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art to name a few.


Photo of Makana Kushi standing in front of school poster-board. Makana Kushi (Kanaka ‘Ōiwi) is a 3rd year PhD student in American Studies at Brown University originally from Hilo, Hawaiʻi. Her research explores ethnic and racial hierarchies in Hawaiʻi through Hawaiian language newspapers and family and oral history. As a beneficiary of the kula kaiapuni (Hawaiian language immersion school) movement, she is dedicated to the cultivation of Indigenous resurgent educational spaces, and hopes to explore the resurgent potential of teaching Hawaiʻi history both in and outside of the academy. She is the program coordinator for Brown’s Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative.

Photo of Rae Kuruhara with a brick wall in the background. Rae Kuruhara (Kanaka ʻŌiwi) is a 2nd-year student in the public humanities MA program interested in the potential popular media such as comics, music, fashion, and television play in preserving, depicting, and informing Indigenous cultures. Rae is a 2nd-year student in the public humanities MA program interested in the potential popular media such as comics, music, fashion, and television play in preserving, depicting, and informing Indigenous cultures. Their work questions the conventional hierarchy of literary studies and actively worked to bring graphic novels and video games into serious conversation in an effort not only to destigmatize them, but to also frame these popular art forms as more immersive bridges between oral and written storytelling traditions. Rae is the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative public humanities fellow and communications coordinator.