Uncommon Threads celebrates the textile arts of the Wabanakis, the indigenous people living between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Maine. Known geographically as the Maritime Peninsula, the region falls in both the United States and Canada. For millennia, textiles have played a vital role as Native communities have expressed and maintained their identity. This large and distinctive body of Wabanaki artifacts challenges stereotypes about Native textiles and clothing that are based on more familiar styles from better known regions of North America.
For Wabanakis, textiles have long been a rich and important medium. They record how, beginning in the seventeenth century, an indigenous people coped with a rapidly expanding alien culture that surrounded them. The Wabanakis defined their view of this new world through their clothing and costume. For all cultures, important occasions and life events demand special clothes that communicate messages to the viewer. By examining Wabanaki costume, including specific styles and decorative ornament, one can find information that illuminates the history of the Wabanakis, their means of communication, and the ways they coped with a rapidly changing world.