By Ashley Ward, Secretary and Assistant Editor
University of Maine at Farmington conducted a week of events surrounding issues affecting the Indigenous communities within Maine as a response to Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 11. Several of the days following the holiday featured a different event dedicated to spreading awareness amongst the UMF community and members of the public.
Monday’s event on October 11 consisted of a virtual teach-in, where attendees were offered the chance to observe three short films: “The Penobscot: Ancestral River, Contested Territory”, “The Saga Continues”, and “Kihtahkomikumon (Our Land) – #IslandBack in Passamaquoddy Territory”. More information about these short films and links to watch them can be found at https://www.umf.maine.edu/diat/indigenous-peoples-week/.
The event held on Wednesday, October 13, was a comprehensive presentation and discussion on the meaning and significance of #LandBack, as well as water rights and decolonization within Wabanaki territory. The discussion was moderated by Executive Director of Bomazeen Land Trust Mali Obomsawin and Sunlight Media Collective member Lokotah Sanborn. The presentation was held by Penobscot Nation member Dawn Neptune Adams and Maine Indian Land Claims historian Maria Giouard. Together, the four speakers represent Penobscot and Abenaki communities, as well as Wabanaki led organizations.
Adams and Giouard discussed waste mismanagement in areas near to Penobscot and Passamaquoddy lands, the legal proceedings surrounding land claims, and current water quality issues at length during Wednesday’s event. Adams cautions that future wars will be fought over water, rather than oil.
“We protect the water, not for ourselves, but for the next seven generations,” Adams said.
On the evening of Thursday, October 14, an event was held on the Mantor Green by UMF College Democrats President Celia Canavan about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Students led a teach-in about this transgression and asked attendees to wear red as a sign of solidarity. A poster circulated by the UMF College Democrats states: “Their fight is our fight.”
A presentation and discussion was led on Friday, October 15, by Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Maine Darren J. Ranco of Penobscot Nation. Ranco discussed decolonization at campus level and what that entails, as well as how it affects members of the UMF community. Ranco also introduced the topic of Traditional Knowledge Labels and their importance within Indigenous communities.
During Indigenous Peoples’ Week at UMF, an Indigenous Land and Water Acknowledgement was unveiled. Written by Obomsawin and Ranco, UMF’s Indigenous Land and Water Acknowledgement addresses the history of the space the UMF campus occupies and the effects of colonization on surrounding lands and their people.
For more information about the events, the presenters, or UMF’s Indigenous Land and Water Acknowledgement, visit the site found at: https://www.umf.maine.edu/2021/10/umf-recognizes-indigenous-peoples-day-with-week-of-events-exploring-issues-vital-to-the-wabanaki-people/.