Maine Memo: Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Dear University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias communities,

Today we observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day, honoring the rich history and culture of the Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy and the many thousands of tribes whose traditional lands cover this vast continent.

The holiday represents an opportunity to learn about our past and to consider how we can continue to strive toward a just and equitable future for all.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core to the university. By emphasizing the history of the places in which we learn and grow, we honor the past and contextualize our future. Reading our land acknowledgments is an invitation to engage, to learn more about Indigenous culture, and to pay attention to how we honor Indigenous culture here.

This summer, the Wabanaki Youth in Science (WaYS) program, established by grants from the National Science Foundation and Maine EPSCoR, held the 2023 wskitkamik w “earth” camp in Princeton, Maine. This program engages Wabanaki students in STEM through their cultural heritage and environmental legacy to encourage and promote persistence in sciences in college and into a career.

In Machias, Passamaquoddy and English building signage is being installed throughout campus; in 2019, bilingual campus signage in Penobscot and English was installed in Orono.

The University of Maine is one of five international sites of the 2022 Raising Indigenous Voices in Academia & Society (RIVAS) conference, acknowledging the contributions of Indigenous Peoples globally, Oct. 20–25. Organized by the University of Montana, the conference is in hybrid format, featuring speakers and presentations in person and online. UMaine’s Wells Conference Center is an in-person site of the conference on Oct. 24. More information is online and by contacting UMaine conference leader Lisa Neuman.

This winter, the university will host the 2022 Wabanaki Winter Market on Dec. 10, a highlight of the season. These activities complement the university’s commitment to Native American studies and the Hudson Museum’s mission of honoring cultural diversity and inclusion through our exhibitions, events, and programs.

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and every day, I urge you to recommit to the shared values that will bring all people, and our universities, into a promising future.


Joan Ferrini-Mundy