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UMaine to Host Ceremony in Honor of Passamaquoddy Dictionary

Contact: Aimee Dolloff, (207) 581-3777; UMaine Wabanaki Center, (207) 581-1417

More than 30 years of hard work and dedication has culminated with the publication of the first-ever Passamaquoddy-Maliseet dictionary.

The book, published by the University of Maine Press, is authored by Passamaquoddy tribal elder David A. Francis; Robert M. Leavitt, former director of the Mi’kmaq-Maliseet Institute at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton; and Margaret Apt, community research coordinator and Passamaquoddy language teacher at Eastport’s Shead Memorial High School.

An Honoring Ceremony for the release of the book will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the University of Maine’s Wells Conference Center. The event is hosted by The Passamaquoddy Tribe and UMaine’s Wabanaki Center.

“It’s everything a dictionary like this should be,” Michael Alpert, director of the University of Maine Press says. “I’m really glad that the university is part of this.”

“A Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Dictionary” contains 18,000 entries on more 1,200 pages and was a collaborative effort among native speakers, educators, and linguists.

The language is spoken in Maine and New Brunswick, Canada but never has been recorded in this form. For generations, American Indian culture and custom has been passed down primarily through oral tradition, but little has been formally documented.

Each dictionary entry includes sample sentences from both traditional and contemporary conversation and provides details of Passamaquoddy-Maliseet thought and culture, personal attitudes, humor, and linguistic ingenuity, according to information printed on the book’s jacket.

In the dictionary’s preface, written by Imelda and David Perley who have spent many years trying to preserve the Maliseet language, they refer to the dictionary as “a Sacred Bundle containing ancestral teachings, values, beliefs, and worldviews.”

“For nearly half a century many individuals, including myself, have been committed to making sure that the next generation has the tools and methodology essential to their own creativity in future endeavors,” Wayne A. Newell, Passamaquoddy elder and member of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, writes in the Preface. “This dictionary stands as the centerpiece of our commitment.”

To attend Wednesday’s ceremony, RSVP by calling the Wabanaki Center at 581-1417.

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