This Native American Museum is a wonderful hidden gem in Maine!
In the tiny town of New Portland, along Highway 27, Nowetah’s Indian Store and Museum sits nestled into the Maine woods. Unlike the heavily advertised attractions on Maine’s coast, Nowetah’s is a true hidden gem - something you won’t find unless you’re looking for it.
In contrast with many Native American museums, this one is not tribe specific. It contains information and artifacts from groups across North, South, and Central America. The owners open their museum and gift shop to the public every day of the year, to share their labor of love with anyone who wants to see these artifacts.
Upon entering, the gentleman at the museum encouraged us to take pictures and ask questions. He informed us they had collected the museum’s artifacts over the last six decades, while the museum has been open for the last five.
The dark logs of the rustic cabin house a treasure trove of Native American history. These exhibits are artfully organized into sections based on geographical location. In the back right corner of the building, an impressive collection of baskets, dating back to the 1800s, line multiple shelves. Each basket has a tag with information about who made the basket, and when they created them.
I felt most impressed with the small cradle baskets used to hold infants. Others had a variety of weaving work, which was not only decorative, but functional, as even the baskets that are over a hundred years old still looked new.
Glass cases in the museum hold examples of intricate beadwork adorning headwear, bags, and moccasins. Figures carved from wood, with unique shapes and a variety of sizes occupy each of the different regions’ display cases.
Though this museum isn’t large, there is plenty to see on the inside. Take your time to view the Incan pottery and handmade dolls, totem poles from the Ojibwa and Nootka peoples of Canada, and various animal firs.
See the hand carved Kachina dolls from the Navajo of New Mexico, with an explanation of their significance and purpose. Or find the Alaskan Haida artifacts, which include a drum and totem pole.
It’s possible to walk around the museum several times and see things you missed on previous rounds. And don’t forget to look up while you’re there. This museum is a labor of love, and it shows. The displays cover a wide range of native groups and items, as well as some modern Native American-inspired trinkets, like a salt and pepper shaker collection. There are so many interesting things to see here that it’s worth taking a trip out of the way for it.
The Gift Shop
Nowetah’s gift shop has a variety of gifts from wooden flutes, to leather gear, candy, clothing, coffee mugs, native crafts, and more. They accept cash or check (with a valid I.D.).
You won’t find advertisements or marketing for this museum, though you can follow them on Facebook. The museum is open seven days a week, 365 days a year. Admission is FREE, but they accept donations.
When we typed Nowetah’s Indian Store into Google maps, it didn’t have any trouble leading us to their location off Highway 27 in New Portland.
Know Before You Go
Address: 2 Colegrove Road, New Portland, Maine 04961
Phone Number: (207) 628-4981
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., 365 days/year
Parking: Small gravel area with a “Customer Parking” sign
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