HARPSWELL — Most people passing Gun Point Cove Gallery on Harpswell Islands Road probably notice Doug Bane’s large wooden sculptures of animals on the lawn.

But inside, Bane has been working on a different project that he says has changed him spiritually: portraits of Native American tribal leaders.

The walls of the Orr’s Island building are lined with renditions of Native Americans from tribes around the U.S.

Bane held a public reception for his work at the gallery on Oct. 8, which is recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day in some places, including Brunswick, instead of Columbus Day.

After spending years making wood carvings of birds and larger wild animals such as lions, tigers, giraffes and horses, Bane began painting the portraits about two or three years ago.

All of the paintings now featured in the gallery were created this year; last winter, he said, he spent about eight or nine hours a day, every day, painting.

Bane has completed about 400, not all of which are on display in the gallery (he said he doesn’t want to “cram the place full”).

“I feel strongly about the way the native people have been treated, especially in this state,” Bane said. “What I want to do is represent these people the way they actually were – with dignity and respect, and show their spirit.”

The paintings in the main gallery all feature different colorful backgrounds, which Bane said represents that person’s medicine and their energy.

Before he begins a painting he conducts a ceremony with sage, and said he has an extensive library with information about different leaders – but still feels his subjects “pick themselves.”

“I just go through all the photos, and I’ll say, ‘Well I think I’m going to do this person,’ and then by the time I’m through another person says, ‘No, it’s my turn,’ and it’s just how it works,” he said. “It’s a very strange experience, but I seem to have opened the door some way or another.”

Bane said his grandfather, who lived in a cabin on a mountain for the last 20 years of his life, helped him become more interested in Native American culture.

“I used to spend a lot of time with him and he taught me a lot about the woods and (he) sent me on many vision quests,” he said. “It really enhanced my involvement with the whole thing over the years.”

In the back of the gallery, Bane has a sunroom full of ink drawings of leaders from Maine tribes. He said he hopes to feature more Maine leaders eventually, because of “the treatment they’re still getting,” but it can be difficult to find photos of them.

Bane said the state’s attitude towards Maine tribes has been “really poor,” and the tribes still have a high suicide rate, which is why he wants to call attention to the issue.

So far, Bane has only shown his portraits at his own gallery, but said he will likely travel out west with them at some point. People in Maine, he said, tend to want art that features “lobsters and buoys and sailboats,” not Native Americans.

Above all, Bane said he wants his art to have a greater purpose.

“I decided to devote the rest of my time to doing this,” he said. “And hopefully opening some eyes and making us all think about what we do to each other in this world.”