The University of Maine at Augusta is honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday October 10, 2022. In 2019 Maine became one of fourteen states to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which is celebrated on the second Monday of October. This day replaces what used to be known as Columbus Day. Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes the violent dispossession of Native American people by European settlers and their systemic displacement by Federal policies and makes a commitment to re-establish their sovereignty and provide reparations for the harm done to those groups. While South Dakota first began to recognize the day in 1989, the 2021 Presidential proclamation prompted more states to recognize it.
In Fall 2021, UMA recognized the Indigenous Peoples’ Day by sharing the reflection of a UMA student from Mvskoke Nation with the university community, inviting the Honorable Donna Loring, former Senior Advisor on Tribal Affairs to Governor Janet Mills, to deliver the convocation keynote address, and launching a new course on Tribal Law. The UMA community joined a local panel discussion on cultural and political issues affecting Maine’s Indigenous communities and a Maine State Forum on the Penobscot Nation Tribal Court.
For more information on the day’s history in Maine, read about this recent legal development on recognizing the sovereignty of Maine’s tribes. Maine’s current governor Janet Mills “has prohibited Native American mascots; reinvigorated the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission, strengthened water quality standards, provided Tribal Nations jurisdiction to prosecute non-Tribal members for domestic violence against its members, established a permanent appointment of a member of the Wabanaki Tribes to the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, extended the time for Maine’s Tribal Nations to acquire land in trust, and introduced and signed into a law a resolve that authorized the State to convey to the Passamaquoddy Tribe an important parcel of land in Meddybemps”.
If you want to know more and take more action, attend events addressing the day, donate to Indigenous led organizations, and amplify indigenous voices. You can also advocate for the Day, expose yourself to Indigenous books and entertainment, and explore Native plants to honor the Day.
UMA Events Honoring Native American Culture and History
Moose Book Club: Night of the Living Rez
- The Office of Student Life at UMA is organizing an online Moose Book Club session in November to celebrate the Native American Heritage Month. Join to read and discuss Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty (available through UMA libraries) – a story collection based on a Native community in Maine – with UMA students, staff and faculty.
Local Events Honoring Native American Culture and History
Many Voices: Who Gets to Tell the Story?
- In Brunswick, attend “Many Voices: Who Gets to Tell the Story?” in Curtis Memorial Library on September 28, 6pm-8pm, an event organized by the Midcoast Indigenous Awareness Group.
Digital Land Mapping Project
- You can also attend a presentation by Pejepscot Portage Mapping Project on digital mapping of Indigenous lands on October 6, 6pm-8pm at Brunswick’s Curtis Memorial Library.
- In Bangor, you can listen to the award-winning Wabanaki folk musician Mali Obomsawin at Bangor Arts Exchange on October 29 at 7:30 PM
Truth Telling Initiative & Other Learning Opportunities
- To learn more about and contribute to the spirit of the day, check out the 2022 Native-led non-profit Wabanaki Reach’s truth telling initiative that addresses Maine Indian land claims through oral history.
- Maine State Museum provides a range of resources for those who prefer to learn more about the past and present of Maine’s Indigenous communities.
- Watch this webinar on Indigenous Voices in the Outdoors by Rethink Outside™ and the First Nations Development Institute.
- Watch the documentary film Voices from the Barrens, Native People, Blueberries and Sovereignty and join the online panel discussion on October 20, 6:30 pm on the impact of the world market on wild blueberry harvest by Wabanaki Indigenous people from the US and Canada.
Recommended Videos from the Sunlight Media Collective
The Sunlight Media Collective is an organization of Indigenous and non-Indigenous media makers and activists, including Wabanaki tribal members, working to document and present stories affecting Wabanaki people and highlighting Wabanaki perspectives, with a particular emphasis on the intersection between environmental issues and tribal rights.
The Penobscot: Ancestral River, Contested Territory traverses the landscape of deal-making and deal-breaking which has historically defined tribal-state relations in Maine. Spanning from the 1700’s to the present-day legal battle being played out in Penobscot Nation v. Mills, the film illustrates the history of Penobscots’ tenacious fight to retain their territory and their inherent, treaty-reserved sustenance fishing rights for future generations. The Penobscot: Ancestral River, Contested Territory features the Penobscot people’s traditional, centuries-long stewardship to ensure a healthy ecosystem for all of Maine. It tells the urgent, inspiring story of a struggle for justice and cultural survival in the face of an astonishingly open abuse of state power.
The Saga Continues is an August 2021 update to the Penobscot River case written by Maria Girouard (Penobscot Nation), an historian with a particular interest and expertise in the Maine Indian Land Claims.
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