From the Perspective of the First Mainers: Workshop Teaches Wabanaki History

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The Wabanaki map literally at the center of a recent Bowdoin workshop was imprinted, like a fabric mosaic, of images integral to the history of the Wabanaki people and their culture: a red eagle, a tri-colored dream catcher, fish, and mammals.

Over the course of the workshop, the Wabanaki map—the colorful storyboard in the middle of the room—was folded up and broken apart several times, representing the fragmented nature of Wabanaki history. By the end, the pieces were rolled out and put back together, as if to symbolize the resilience of the Wabanaki up to the present day.

“We are working toward truth, healing, and change with educational programs that teach how the process of colonization happened and continues to happen here,” said Kates.

Diana Furukawa ’18 helped facilitate the recent afternoon event in the Edwards Center for Art and Dance with Maine-Wabanaki REACH, a nonprofit engaging non-native people in restorative justice for the Wabanaki. The Wabanaki refers to five nations—the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki, and Penobscot—who are from the Northeastern part of the country, including Maine.

Furukawa currently works at the public library in Millinocket, Maine, helping with community-led grassroots revitalization efforts in the Katahdin area. To bring the Wabanaki  event to Bowdoin, Furukawa partnered with Barbara Kates, REACH’s community organizer.

“We are working toward truth, healing, and change with educational programs that teach how the process of colonization happened and continues to happen here,” said Kates.

Read the full press release here.

Wabanaki REACH Brings Awareness to Campus

Walking into a sunlit room with a circle of chairs arranged in the center, 20 local Maine residents and students gathered together to learn about the indigenous people of Maine.

Located in the Woolley Room at the DTAV Community Center, the workshop was held to bring awareness to the struggles that indigenous people in Maine face to this day. The event was held on Friday, Oct. 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and included many different exercises and activities. Some of them included moments of silence for those who have passed away, other activities involved discussing Native Americans and their culture, interactive learning activities and many other exercises that helped the group get a better understanding of how Native Americans were treated at the time when America was discovered and taken over by Europeans, and how they are treated today.

Maine is a historic state with many Native Americans indigenous to the Penobscot River and surrounding areas. The leaders of the Wabanaki REACH group, Barbara Kates and Paul Strickland, wanted to emphasize how important the Native Americans were to this land, and how important they still are.

The discussions and talks were navigated and mediated by Kates, the Maine Community Organizer, as well as Strickland and other members of the group. They also brought to light different topics such as the removal of Natives from their lands and rivers, and how the Native American population in Maine has slowly diminished over time.

Read the full report by Bria Lamonica in the University of Maine’s student newspaper Maine Campus.

Explore Maine History with Maine-Wabanaki REACH & UMaine Art Students

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Join Maine-Wabanaki REACH and UMaine Art Education Students for an interactive story-telling event. We will be exploring events in the shared history of Europeans and their descendants and Wabanaki people.

Participation is limited to a maximum of 30. To enroll, you must RSVP by April 26th to Constant Albertson at constant@maine.edu. First come, first serve, and accepted participants will receive a confirmation email. A list of alternatives will be kept in case of spaces becoming available.

Link to web listing.

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Maine Forum: Education Continues on Wabanaki Plight

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In 2015, a report focusing on Maine Wabanaki children and decades of discriminatory practices in the child welfare system was meant to spark changes and begin the healing process for the state’s native tribes. For Wabanakis and members of Maine-Wabanaki REACH, a group tasked with implementing the report’s recommendations, that process is far from over.

Speaking during a Great Falls Forum in Lewiston on Thursday, Maine Wabanaki REACH Community Organizers Barbara Kates and Tom Reynolds underlined the importance of the work that had been accomplished but said more outreach and more education is needed.

The pair led a presentation titled “Truth, Healing and Change: Why Maine Needed a Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” which refers to the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission established in 2013.

Read the full story by Andrew Rice in the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal.

Photo by Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal.

This is a followup to this post on Sokoki Sojourn.

Maine-Wabanaki Reach to Host Ally Workshop Nov. 19

Maine-Wabanaki REACH will present a free Ally Workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at 175 Park St., Augusta, ME. This workshop has been well received across the state with more than 400 Mainers participating, according to a news release from the organization.

The workshop is an opportunity for non-Native people to reflect on the shared history and future with Native people. The workshop will include a very brief history of U.S. government relationships with Native people, awareness of white privilege, and ally responsibilities. Space is limited and registration is required. To register, email Barbara@mainewabanakireach.org or call 951-4874.

Maine-Wabanaki REACH is a cross cultural collaborative organization of Wabanaki and Maine people working towards truth, healing and change to support Wabanaki self-determination.

Original posting at the Kennebec Journal here.