If you’ve ever turned up arrowheads or other Native American artifacts in a freshly-tilled field or along the waterways on your farm or property, you know the exhilaration in finding treasure in the area’s history.
With the traveling exhibit, “Catching Shadows,” the Talbot Historical Society taps into that feeling with Native American portraits and artifact collections.
The exhibit, which started in January and will run until the end of April, is open to the public Wednesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 30 S. Washington Street in Easton.
The exhibit gives a nod to 19th century Native Americans referring to the white men with cameras as “Shadow Catchers.”
The society’s walls during this time will display an immersive photography collection of 21st century Native Americans of the Eastern Shore. Accomplished photographer Anne Neilson captured the subjects between 2009 and 2010 using a “wet plate” process, a technique that dates back to the 19th century and consists of using a wooden box type camera and in Neilson’s case, a brass lens from 1864, without the modern-day shutter or lighting technology to result in “tintype” photographs.
While the photographs tell their own story of four Eastern Shore tribes — the Accohannock, Assateague, Nause Waiwash Band of Indians, and the Pocomoke — there is also accompanying audio with each.
There also is a lecture series titled a “Date with History” that offers a deep dive further into Native American life, artifacts and archeological finds
As part of the lecture series, Neilson in January spoke further on the collection where some of the subjects of her portraits also discussed being a Native American in the 21st century, struggling to carry on traditions while seemingly blending into modern day living.
Accompanying the photographs and lectures, in the gallery’s display cases are artifacts gathered not by archeologists, but rather local landowners and farmers, who have all unearthed tiny reminders of those who worked the land several centuries prior.
The display includes extensive collections of Michael Mielke and Buddy Garrett found from the Miles River Neck area, and Randy Welch’s collection from Talbot and Dorchester. Peter Stifel’s collection on display was purchased from a local game warden and outdoor enthusiast.
The extensive collections include not only arrowheads but an array of axes and other implements found on their local properties, and upon closer look, you will see the variety of stone types, detail done to purpose and other nuances in the hundreds of pieces.
Many of the pieces have been examined and identified by University of Maryland experts as to what stone type, purpose and prediction on age.
The Feb. 22 “Date with History,” featured Terry Crannell, a Dorchester Historical Society curator and expert, spoke about factors that have affected artifact hunting from farming practices to regulations and laws concerning collecting.
A gathering to mark on the calendar is Saturday, March 25, a day when local artifact collectors will be around to exhibit and explain their collections to the public.
Museum also featured higher end Native American art and antiques in January with a special appraisal event on Jan. 19.
The Potomack Company, an Alexandria, Va., auction house reviewed over 20 items of art, jewelry, antiques, documents brought in. Each item was reviewed and appraised by Potomack’s Native American arts specialist Linda Dyer, who also serves as a Native American specialist on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow. The auction house, which has sold prominent collections from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Colin Powell and Art Buchwald, also sells Native American items that go from hundreds to the hundreds of thousands.