Maine Native American leaders mark progress, eye future on second Indigenous Peoples Day

Maine’s Native American tribal leaders are looking to the future as the state celebrates its second Indigenous Peoples Day.They say the new holiday in Maine is one to remember and honor the original habitants of the state, as well as consider goals like tribal sovereignty. “It’s heartbreaking to think about just how much indigenous people in Maine have lost,” said Penobscot Nation Ambassador Maulian Dana.During a webinar with the American Civil Liberties Union Monday afternoon, Dana said there have been symbolic victories in the last couple of years, starting with the state dropping Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day in 2019.”The difference is we passed these laws that racism and ignorance and digging in on the wrong side of history isn’t validated by our state system anymore,” Dana said.There was also a bill that banned Native American mascots in public schools.”I truly don’t think you are ever going to work with someone as equals if you don’t see them as human,” Dana said.But she also said there is still work to be done. As a member of the Permanent Commission of the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations, she gave support to a bill that would overhaul the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act and would restore sovereignty. That bill is currently in limbo because of the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s simple: having self-determination and jurisdiction over our own communities and our own lands,” Dana said.With lawmakers likely not returning to Augusta until next year, Dana encourages taking time on the holiday to recognize and learn the histories of the Wabanaki and other native people.”Expand your hearts and minds to understanding the tribes in Maine,” Dana said.You can learn more about the holiday, reasons behind it and resources about Indigenous peoples from the Maine State Museum by clicking here.

Maine’s Native American tribal leaders are looking to the future as the state celebrates its second Indigenous Peoples Day.

They say the new holiday in Maine is one to remember and honor the original habitants of the state, as well as consider goals like tribal sovereignty.

Advertisement

“It’s heartbreaking to think about just how much indigenous people in Maine have lost,” said Penobscot Nation Ambassador Maulian Dana.

During a webinar with the American Civil Liberties Union Monday afternoon, Dana said there have been symbolic victories in the last couple of years, starting with the state dropping Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day in 2019.

“The difference is we passed these laws that racism and ignorance and digging in on the wrong side of history isn’t validated by our state system anymore,” Dana said.

There was also a bill that banned Native American mascots in public schools.

“I truly don’t think you are ever going to work with someone as equals if you don’t see them as human,” Dana said.

But she also said there is still work to be done. As a member of the Permanent Commission of the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations, she gave support to a bill that would overhaul the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act and would restore sovereignty. That bill is currently in limbo because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s simple: having self-determination and jurisdiction over our own communities and our own lands,” Dana said.

With lawmakers likely not returning to Augusta until next year, Dana encourages taking time on the holiday to recognize and learn the histories of the Wabanaki and other native people.

“Expand your hearts and minds to understanding the tribes in Maine,” Dana said.

You can learn more about the holiday, reasons behind it and resources about Indigenous peoples from the Maine State Museum by clicking here.