Bangor to Designate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Columbus Day

Bangor City Hall

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.

See the complete article in the Bangor Daily News.

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Portland Designates Second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Maine’s largest city will no longer celebrate Columbus Day as a municipal holiday. The Portland City Council voted unanimously Monday to designate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The vote came after nearly an hour of public comment.

Portland became the latest municipality in Maine to recognize indigenous people instead of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, who arrived in the New World on Oct. 12, 1492. Belfast was the first to make the switch in 2015, Bangor did so last month and Orono followed suit last week. Later Monday night, the Brunswick Town Council voted 8-1 to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Read the full article in the Portland Press-Herald. 

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That’s five towns/cities in Maine now. Durham, NH was the first in that state, just this week. Brattleboro adds its Town School Board in the ‘change” column. The time has come to recognize the rest of the story…

Maine Museum Preserves Wabanaki Birchbark Canoe

brunswick maine wabanaki birchbark canoe

One of the oldest-known Native American birch-bark canoes will go on display at a Maine historical society museum, possibly as early as this fall, after spending three decades in a barn. Carbon dating by the Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick shows the Wabanaki canoe was likely made sometime between 1729 and 1789. Museum records date the canoe to the mid-1700s.

The Wabanaki Confederacy is a group of Native American nations who lived primarily in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and parts of Atlantic Canada.

Larissa Vigue Picard, the historical society’s executive director, says the Wabanaki artifact is “priceless” and could be the oldest birch-bark canoe in existence. Native Americans have been making these canoes for 3,000 years. But only a few of the earliest ones still exist because birch bark is so fragile, says Laurie LaBar, chief curator of history and decorative arts at the Maine State Museum in Augusta.

The Pejepscot Historical Society came in possession of the 16-foot-long canoe in 1889. Museum officials say it was donated to the organization after being passed down through generations in the family of William Barnes, a sea captain from Harpswell, who received the canoe as a gift from a tribe. It’s spent the last three decades in a barn behind the museum, exposed to extreme temperatures and humidity, but is in relatively good shape.

Built by standards of the 1700s, it was held together with wooden pegs instead of nails or other modern fasteners brought to America by Europeans, according to the historical society’s Stephanie Ruddock. The canoes were popular with early explorers because they were much lighter than dugout canoes made from tree trunks, and could be carried.

A craftsman in Wellington will restore the 18th century vessel before it goes on display, situated in a specially crafted cradle.

Read the original article in The Maine Edge.

Separating the Penobscot From Their River

Penobscot-Indian-Nation-Rally-June-30-2017-–-Courtesy-Penobscot-Indian-Nation

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 Past Comes to Life in South Berwick

unting house museum exhibit

Read the article by ColinWoodward in the Portland Press Herald. 

…Relations with native inhabitants were relatively cordial in the first half-century after colonization, but the situation deteriorated after Massachusetts annexed the region in the 1640s and 1650s, triggering a series of brutal wars between the 1670s and the 1760s, during which many of the colonists’ homesteads and settlements were repeatedly destroyed.

“We associate this place with resilience and stubbornness and independence, and that all has its roots in the 17th century,” said the exhibit’s curator, Nina Maurer. “When you’ve seen your parents’ generation decimated and building a home is an uncertain undertaking, it can mark a place in ways we think you can still see.”

The Old Berwick Historical Society, which runs the Counting House Museum and raised over $100,000 to launch the exhibit, is hosting a related lecture series and history hikes this fall.

On Sept. 28, Dr. Linford Fisher of Brown University will speak on the complex interactions between Native Americans, northern New England settlers and the Atlantic slave trade at 7:30 p.m. at Berwick Academy.

Wabanaki scholar Lisa Brooks of Amherst College will take up the meaning of one of the most brutal of the Anglo-Wabanaki Wars on Oct. 26 at the same time and venue. (More information at oldberwick.org.)

The exhibit will be on display throughout the museum’s 2018 season as well.

“The 17th century tells us something about the struggle for dominance and control and the destiny of a landscape, one where people had to make choices,” Maurer said. “Those are challenges we still have today.”

Mi’kmaw-Indigenous Float to Lead Halifax Pride Parade

wabanaki two spirit alliance halifax parade

For the first time, a Mi’kmaw-Indigenous float will lead the 30th annual Halifax Pride Parade on July 22. John R. Sylliboy, co-founder of the Wabanaki Two-Spirit Alliance that submitted the float, was informed of the decision on Monday.

“The Grand Marshalls recognized the importance of an Indigenous float so they said they supported (the idea) that the Indigenous float goes first and that they would follow us in the parade,” Sylliboy said. “It was nice of them,” he added.

The parade is part of the Halifax Pride Festival which begins today and runs until July 30. Approximately 120,000 participate in the annual festival.

Read the full story by Maureen Googoo at Kukukwes.com.

Native American Heritage on Display at Annual Festival

Wabanaki Basketmaking

Folks in Bar Harbor got to experience a little taste of history. The annual Native American Festival and Basketmakers market brought music, dance, and a lesson in culture to Downeast Maine.

“You know Maine a lot of times doesn’t really know much about indigenous population so it’s a wonderful gathering of artisans and drummers and sharing.”

Each handcrafted item represents the beauty and culture of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot people. For many visitors it’s a chance to meet artists and learn about contemporary Wabanaki art from the Maritimes.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see each other and share our music with them. We are a strong part of Maine history and we would like to bring that back.”

See the full article by Alyssa Thurlow on WABI 5.