David Moses Bridges Scholarship

Background

David Moses Bridges (1962-2017) was a member of the Passamaquoddy tribe of eastern Maine, part of a confederation of five tribes known as the Wabanaki, whose home territory stretches from eastern Canada to western Vermont. He was a birch bark artist, educator, and environmental activist who believed strongly that stewardship of cultural and natural resources was vital to healthy communities, and are values that should be shared with all people. David grew up learning Passamaquoddy stories, traditions, and values, which he embraced as a teacher and advocate later in life.

David spent his life learning to work with birch bark in the traditions of his ancestors, focused specifically on birch bark canoe and basket making. He believed that traditional art is founded in the relationship between contemporary artists and their ancestors, feeling strongly that artistic inspiration and expression is directly connected to ancestral knowledge. David went to boatbuilding school to learn the craft, and apprenticed with a master birch bark canoe builder. David studied bark work in museum and private collections, and experimented to understand the techniques used by his ancestors, becoming an internationally renowned and award-winning artist. Simultaneously, David promoted environmental preservation of sacred and natural spaces, fighting against corporate development of pristine environments, and protection and appreciation of those spaces. David advocated for the environment that fostered Native communities to thrive for thousands of years, ensuring the continuation of cultural traditions into the future. One of David’s goals was to help people develop personal relationships with and respect for the natural world.

As an educator, David inspired thousands of people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests. Through his patient and passionate ability to share his traditions, David broke through cultural barriers and broke down stereotypes about Native people. In addition to teaching classes on basket making and canoe building, David was a talented educator who was able to talk about history, the ongoing struggle for Native rights, and boat building in classrooms, museums, and public forums.

Purpose

The David Moses Bridges scholarship for cultural, artistic, and environmental preservation provides support for artists, scholars, educators, and environmental activists working to preserve traditional resources, knowledge, and spaces that inspire Native works of art and cultural expression. This scholarship is inspired by the life, art, and activism of Passamaquoddy birch bark artist David Moses Bridges, who believed strongly that the preservation of natural spaces and passing on traditional knowledge and skills from one generation to the next was vital to the health of the environment, people, and communities. The scholarship will support connections between master artists and apprentices, aspiring artists, scholars, and elders; research and publications inspired by and about David and his work; and the preservation of unique culturally important spaces and resources.

Eligibility Requirements 

  1. Eligibility Criteria - Preference is given to:
    1. Wabanaki applicants seeking to further understand and advance traditional knowledge, skills, and protection of the natural world. Secondary consideration will be given to Indigenous applicants. Final consideration will be given to all others.
    2. Individuals interested in furthering academic, artistic, cultural, and heritage studies in both material and non-material Wabanaki culture and environmental advocacy and stewardship.
    3. Individuals​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​research​ ​and​ ​subsequent​ ​publication​ ​about​ ​the artistic,​ ​cultural,​ ​and​ ​family​ ​legacy​ ​of​ ​David​ ​Moses​ ​Bridges.

First awards will be in 2019.