‘Celebrating Bonac’ With Stories, Songs, Traditional Arts and Culture - 27 East

Arts & Living

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‘Celebrating Bonac’ With Stories, Songs, Traditional Arts and Culture

authorStaff Writer on Sep 20, 2023

This October, join the Peter Matthiessen Center and Joanne Friendland Roberts, producer of “The Bonackers” documentary for two unique gatherings celebrating the centuries-old Bonacker community of East Hampton.

The first event, on the afternoon of Sunday, October 1, takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Arts Center at Duck Creek, and showcases the arts and traditions of the men and women who have fished and farmed the lands and seas of the East End for nearly 400 years. Participants will explore cultural arts passed down through the generations, discovering this little-known community’s unique history and lifestyle. Wisdom keepers, baymen and longtime locals will share tales, songs, stories and traditions — with displays of centuries-old crafts, including artwork, decoy carving, fishing traps, nets and wampum jewelry and beads. In addition, participants will learn about the important Indigenous origins of many of these art forms and techniques.

A traditional Native American blessing, sea shanties from the whaling days, and readings from Peter Matthiessen’s 1986 classic “Men’s Lives” will help bring the diverse community together. Participating artists and baymen include Dave Bennett, Albie Lester, Brent Bennett, Shane Weeks, Michael Butler, Scott Chaskey, David Cataletto and Peter Van Scoyoc and others. A panel led by Joanne Friedland Roberts will feature members of both the Bonacker and Indigenous communities of Long Island. The Arts Center at Duck Creek is located at 127 Squaw Road, in East Hampton.

The second gathering will be held at the East Hampton Historical Farm Museum from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 15. The event will open with the short concept trailer for “The Bonackers” documentary, produced by Joanne Friedland Roberts. The trailer will be a springboard for a lively conversation and Q&A about the history, ongoing struggles, and resilience of not only the historic Bonacker community, but that of the Montaukett People and Freetown communities as well. The conversation, led by the East Hampton Historical Farm Museum’s founder, Prudence Talmage Carabine, will include Deanna Tikkanen, Bruce Collins, Audrey Gaines, Peter Van Scoyoc and others. The East Hampton Historical Farm Museum is located at 131 North Main Street in East Hampton.

The “Celebrating Bonac” series is part of a collaboration generated by The Peter Matthiessen Center and Joanne Friedland Roberts, creator of “The Bonackers” documentary.

Space is limited to both events. To reserve, visit matthiessencenter.org/the-bonackers.

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