The Bangor City Council on Monday night voted to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of every October — a day the federal government has designated to honor Christopher Columbus.
Bangor follows a growing number of cities and states that have decided to shift the focus from Columbus to the people who lived here before the arrival of European explorers and colonists. Belfast was the first Maine city to take that step in 2015.
The city council’s resolve, which was approved in a unanimous vote, came at the request from members of the Penobscot Nation, whose Tribal Council member Maulian Dana Smith led the effort. She worked with Councilor Sarah Nichols, who brought it forward to the full council.
Supporters of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Maine and other parts of the nation have said that honoring Columbus on the second Monday in October essentially glorifies colonization, racism and genocide.
Read the full story in the Bangor Daily News.
On June 30, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that severs the Penobscot Indian Nation from the waters of the Penobscot River, a ruling that Penobscot Indian Nation Chief Kirk Francis says is reminiscent of federal termination policy—or worse.
“The river and our relationship to it and the 200 islands [that form the reservation] are the core of our cultural identity. If our ability to protect the river is taken away, we lose a big part of who we are,” Francis told ICMN.
Read the full story by Tanya Lee in Indian Country Today.
The Penobscot Nation is formally vacating a seat the tribe has held in the Maine Legislature for more than 150 years and, instead, plans to select an ambassador to work with the state and federal governments.
More than a mere title change, the switch from non-voting state representative to a full-time “government relations ambassador” is a symbolic and historic shift that reflects the tensions between state officials and leaders of Maine’s federally recognized Indian tribes, most notably the Penobscots and the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
Full story at the Portland Press-Herald.