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Join Dr. Darren Ranco for a roundtable discussion about the Land Back movement and the future of indigenous land relations in Maine. Dr. Ranco will be joined by John Banks, Director of the Department of Natural Resources for the Penobscot Indian Nation; Lucas St. Clair, President of the Elliotsville Foundation which recently returned 735 acres to the Penobscot Nation; and Peter Forbes co-founder of First Light, a land-back collaboration. Panelists will discuss the recent return of land to the Penobscot Nation, the importance of the land and its history, the need for reconciliation in the conservation movement and the possibility of new land relations in Maine.
John Banks is the Director of the Department of Natural Resources for the Penobscot Indian Nation, a federally recognized Indian Tribe in Maine. Mr. Banks has served the Penobscot Nation in this capacity since 1980, following the enactment of the Maine Indian Land Claims settlement Act of 1980. As Natural Resources Director, Mr. Banks has developed and administers a comprehensive Natural Resources management program for his tribe, which advances an integrated management approach, in recognition of the inter- connectedness of all things in the natural world. Mr. Banks has served on many local, regional, and national organization boards including the National Tribal Environmental Council, Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, National Indian Policy Center, and the Tribal Operations Committee with USEPA. Mr. Banks has a BS degree in Forest Protection from the University of Maine, where he was awarded an Indian Fellowship from the Office of Indian Education in Washington DC. Mr. Banks has been awarded the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus from the University of Maine’s School of Forest Resources.
Lucas St. Clair is the President of Elliotsville Foundation, Inc. a private foundation dedicated to advancing the dynamic relationship of innovative land conservation and community-based economic development in Maine. The Elliotsville Foundation recently returned 735 acres of land to the Penobscot Nation and has been instrumental in creating opportunities for both conservation and regional development in the Katahdin region. An avid conservationist and outdoor enthusiast, St. Clair is deeply engaged in Maine’s communities, serving on the advisory boards for Maine Public, Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, and the Trust for Public Land.
Peter Forbes is the co-founder of First Light, a collaboration of indigenous tribes and conservation organizations dedicated to land justice and aimed at restoring Wabaniki stewardship of land. A leader in the conservation movement, Peter has used his writing, storytelling and photography to strengthen our connections to each other and the lands that sustain us. He is the author of Our Land, Ourselves and The Great Remembering. He and his family run a farm in Vermont’s Mad River Valley.
Dr. Darren Ranco is a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology, Chair of Native American Programs, and Coordinator of Native American Research. His research focuses on the ways in which indigenous communities in the United States resist environmental destruction by using indigenous diplomacies and critiques of liberalism to protect cultural resources. This work also illustrates how state knowledge systems continue to expose indigenous peoples to an inordinate amount of environmental risk. Ranco is a member of the Penobscot Nation, and is particularly interested in how better research relationships can be made between universities, Native and non-Native researchers, and indigenous communities.
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