UMaine faculty talk with New Yorker in documenting history, repatriation of Penobscot language

The New Yorker published a feature story highlighting historical efforts to record the Penobscot language and describing current preservation initiatives that includes interviews with several University of Maine faculty. Darren Ranco, a UMaine associate professor of anthropology and director of Native American Programs, noted that early efforts to record the Penobscot language were focused on documenting their language even as Tribal members were being punished for speaking it. A Penobscot language dictionary compiled in the 1980s using an alphabet developed by a non-Native speaker is now being revised by two of the author’s former assistants. Pauleena MacDougall, director of the Maine Folklife Center at UMaine, and Conor Quinn, a lecturer at the University of Southern Maine, are editing the dictionary, which will be published in 2021 by the Penobscot Nation and University of Maine Press. UMaine professor of English Margo Lukens is editing a volume of traditional Penobscot stories first compiled in 1918, with Quinn and Penobscot Language Master Carol Dana. “Still They Remember Me”: “Penobscot Transformer Tales, Volume 1,” will be published in June.