Maine Memo — October 11

Greetings to the University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias communities.

I wish everyone — faculty, staff and the combined 12,000 students from 50 states and 70 countries — health, peace and goodwill on Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

As we build a brighter future, it’s important to recognize that Native people are the first inhabitants of the Americas, including land that 200 years ago became Maine.

The University of Maine is on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation, where issues of water and territorial rights, and encroachment upon sacred sites, are ongoing. These words are part of the UMaine land acknowledgement statement.

To create a fuller and more accurate awareness of place, the Penobscot Language Signage Committee created signs that identify UMaine campus buildings and roads in both Penobscot and English. The first bilingual sign, installed in fall 2018 adjacent to the building that houses the Wabanaki Center, reads wαpánahkik (“in the dawnland”) and Corbett Hall. Another reads αttali-milahəyαwələtimək (“place where you play a variety of games”) and New Balance Student Recreation Center. There’s also awihkhikaní-wikəwαm (“book house”) and Fogler Library.

The UMaine land acknowledgment statement continues: Penobscot homeland is connected to the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations—the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Micmac—through kinship, alliances, and diplomacy. The University also recognizes that the Penobscot Nation and the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations are distinct, sovereign, legal and political entities with their own powers of self-governance and self-determination. 

To learn more, the Native American Programs website includes information about Native American Studies, the Wabanaki Center and other important resources. If you missed it last week, the “First Persons: The Wabanaki Peoples of Maine” webinar with panelists Maulian Dana ’06, Sherri Mitchell ’08, Bridgid Neptune, and moderator Donna Loring ’86 is posted on the University of Maine Alumni Association website. This week, at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 15, “The Doctrine of Christian Discovery and Domination, Colonizing Indigenous Peoples, and the State of Maine” will be offered via Zoom as part of the Fall 2020 Socialist and Marxist Studies series.

Darren Ranco, chair of Native American Programs at UMaine, learned recently that he and colleagues will receive $283,164 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the New Beginning for Tribal Students (NBTS) program. The University of Maine System Tuition Waiver program will match that award, which will enable the team to use the successful educational model developed by WaYS (Wabanaki Youth in Sciences) to increase Native American student recruitment, retention, success, graduation rates, and career development at UMaine and at UMM.

The University of Maine at Machias is on the lands of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.

Passamaquoddy language classes are offered at UMM and archaeological research at the Machias Bay petroglyph sites provides opportunities to learn about the rich culture of the people of Sipayik and Motahkomikuk (Pleasant Point and Peter Dana Point, Indian Township).

The UMM student documentary “Privacy and the Power of Secrets” includes interviews with Passamaquoddy song archivist Dwayne Tomah and American Indian Movement activist Maynard Stanley. The 60-minute film is an official selection at The Hague Global Cinema Festival in November.

As communities of learners, we know that education can broaden horizons, deepen and reframe perspective and understanding, and provide opportunities to build a more just equitable and inclusive society.

Let’s take this opportunity to do just that.