U & D

a space for the exploration of Maine's LD291 and its implementation

Don’t Stop With Alexie

February 7, 2014 by · No Comments · Literature, Sovereignty, Texts

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 3.19.24 PMToday’s post from Debbie Reese at AICL continues the conversation about stereotypes.  Debbie wisely reminds us that by choosing to read narrowly in the growing library of literature by Natives accessible to – and for – children, we can fall dangerously close to reinforcing stereotypes.  Specifically, she talks about the 4D’s (drumming, dancing, drinking, death), topics most often thematic in books about Native life at the YA and adult levels.   She adds “being saved by a White protagonist” to this list.  It is important to avoid books that limit portrayal of Native culture and community to these narrowly defining features.

Of course, the 4D’s (as well as the occasional saving by a White) are found in the literature we use to integrate Native studies into our middle and high school curricula. But, as Debbie so aptly states, so is Rock & Roll.  So is coming of age. So is storytelling. So is spirituality. So is divorce. So are the 4F’s: friendship, flight, fear, forbidden love.

In short, the best Native literature is very much in the mainstream of contemporary YA literature.  And, as Debbie points out in this and other posts, there is quite a bit of it.

Teachers & librarians: Don’t stop with Part Time Indian - good as that book is, there are others as good and better.  (See recommendations at my Top 10 page).

I find it advantageous to read Native literature in today’s classroom.  Unlike many other fiction texts, these reads beg accompanying readings in the realm of “informational text.”  Tribal affiliation of the author/subject.  Historical fact-checking.  Cultural study.  Analysis of other cultural literature (in translation).  And increasingly, contemporary issues.

What better way to fight stereotypes than with a heavy dose of relevance and reflection?  We do not yet have a Great Wabanaki Novel, but we DO have persistent coverage in the news media of Wabanaki issues and news.  So in addition to reading more widely from the growing body of Native literature, I suggest that teachers connect students to some of the Wabanaki issues in Maine today.  I would probably start with one of these:

  • wind and other energy expansion on Native land
  • elver licensing and fishing regulation
  • tribal proposals (today and in recent years) to expand gambling
  • Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission (history, role, findings, actions)

I cover all of these and more in my Scoop.It Wabanaki News and Issues for ME Classrooms, but a Google search (tribe-specific is best) will be successful.  High School students can expand research to include similar issues among other Native tribes, including in Canada (hot issues now relating to child adoption and environmentalism), South America and Australia.

So Debbie Reese is right.  The Native “story” is much deeper and wider than can be told in one novel.  Reach out for more.

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A Reminder About Stereotypes

September 4, 2013 by · No Comments · History, LD291, Texts

From NPR today comes a bit of linguistic history relevant to all Native Studies units.  The History Behind the Phrase ‘Don’t be an Indian giver’ is a recap of the attitudes and perceptions behind the growth of this phrase.

It is a metaphor of the deeply visual sort.  For me it is impossible to hear or read Indian giver without a cartoonish mental image coming to mind. By the way, I have never seen a cartoon that flatters or enobles a Native subject.  If you want to refresh your memory of what humorists have done with the phrase, visit The Indian Giver on Cagle’s site, which features Elizabeth Warren, or this commentary on a recent cartoon, or just do a Google Image search for Indian Giver.

Discuss this joke with your students:  Spell Indian tent with two letters.  (TP)  Why is this not funny?

Additional phrases to listen for:  on the warpathbury the hatchet, squaw, pow wow, smoke a peace pipe, war dance, happy hunting grounds, etc.  If you hear these in the classroom or on the playground, respond.  Clarify the intended and the actual meaning.  Explain that other words can be used to express the same sentiment or meaning.  It is hard for children to understand that language used casually can express an attitude or cast an insult on a culture, especially if the student has no direct contact with that culture.

I am glad that the NPR article also reminds us of the offensive song Indian Giver.  I included the lyrics in my list of stereotypical songs, published in ’07.   I had hoped this list would be “old news” by now, but today Sirius radio played Tim McGraw’s Indian Outlaw, reminding me that stereotypes linger on because they are insensitively repeated and these repetitions fall on young ears and seep into young sensibilities. 

With Columbus Day coming up, perhaps it is a good time to let stereotypes enter into your classroom conversation.  Feel free to use my resources, published at Indian Stereotypes.  I also have a collection of books, largely for children, that should be on the “no” list for schools and libraries, and a representational collection of toys and other objects.  They are good discussion starters for upper elementary and middle school classrooms.  Both collections can be borrowed by Maine teachers for the cost of postage.

There are online, by the way, some classroom lessons for discussing Columbus Day from the Native perspective.  Use them with caution. Those from Native studies programs or Native schools or ed. programs are best.  And by all means consider an oral reading of Dorris’  Morning Girl, which is sure to provoke discussion.  For older elementary (and up) students, the short picture book  A Coyote Columbus Story would be a good choice, along with a reading of Durham’s poem “Columbus Day” (find it here with Debbie Reese’s commentary).  For those wishing to meet a CCSS standard as well, read from Columbus’ journals (begin 13 October), The Dawes Act (find it with commentary here, and a slightly different commentary here), or perhaps use my own text-based lesson on The Penobscot Land Transfer of 1833 (scroll down the page to find the materials. Appropriate for Maine MS and HS).  If I were in a middle or upper school classroom, I would also share the passages from Devil in the White City that describe Will Bill’s show and its many Indians.  The National Museum of the American Indian, Fall 2013 issue, contains an article “Taino in the Vatican” that explores another aspect of Columbus’ legacy, the lives of the Taino who he “captured” and brought to the Queen.  The author, Joseph Barreiro, himself a Taino, has also written a well-received novel (Taino: A Novel) that tells the story from the perspective of one of the captives.  Options for meeting Columbus head on this year are many.

At any level, you might also show students these two maps of pre-Contact North America (map 1, map 2 is of the US only).  What do students make of them?

It is important that we not overlook the darker history of what must surely be called Indian Taking:  slavery, reservations, destruction of family, land, culture, sovereign rights, habitat (which continues to this day), the power of negative stereotypes – all of these must be part of the Columbus (and Thanksgiving) Day discussion.

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Four Acts Before the Inland Fish and Wildlife Committee

April 29, 2013 by · No Comments · LD291, Sovereignty

Four Act will enter hearings Tuesday, each of which could impact the Wabanaki directly (State House calendar). Tribal members would:

L.D. 201: be able to “hunt for, take and possess any wild animal or bird at any time for noncommercial consumption or noncommercial use.”

L.D. 202: be able to : “fish for, take and possess any fish at any time for noncommercial consumption or noncommercial use.”  [unlimited elver fishing, but no selling...]

L.D. 306: exempts enrolled members “from the archery, crossbow and trapping training requirements for obtaining an archery, a crossbow or a trapping license.”

L.D. 600: “adds an archery hunting license to the list of complimentary licenses issued to members of federally recognized Indian nations, bands and tribes.”

No mention of tribal reserve v. state lands. A surprise to me, as all acts are sponsored by Native representatives (who can not, I remind you, vote on them).  I wonder if the tribal represetatives are seeking to shore up treaties [which make the above sovereign rights already on tribal lands] in the face of “puffed up” and perhaps dangerous (to landowners like me) proposed amendments to Maine Constitution:

L.D. 1303: “provides that the citizens of Maine have the personal right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, subject to laws and rules that promote wildlife conservation and preserve the future of hunting and fishing, and to provide that public hunting and fishing are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.”  Which does also not mention Native lands [no native sponsors].  I guess some rights belong to Maine’s Citizens and some are given to Natives by Maine’s Citizens – and these can be taken away?

Study and follow these bills at http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/

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Controversy is Heating Up: Elver Licenses

March 31, 2013 by · No Comments · Economics, Sovereignty

one-handed dip nets?

About a year ago now I wrote about a brewing controversy between the Passamaquoddy (both branches) and the state: Another Controversy Brewing…  The teaching points and questions I raised in that post are still valid – even more so now that the Passamaquoddy stand in defiance of both the state Department of Marine Resources and the recommendations of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

The Passamaquoddy have decided to issue elver licenses way over the limit of 200 imposed on them by the state in an emergency bill.  This was after they had testified in opposition to the proposed limit law.

Today the Passamaquoddy held a press conference to clarify their position. As I note in my comment on the latest article, I hope the tribe is informed and transparent: it needs to make a good case to the state.

I have been following this topic in my Scoop.it: Wabanaki News and Issues for ME Classrooms  (see right sidebar) and will continue to do so. Scrolling down through the articles will provide students will a history of resources related to the topic.  I hope that visitors will engage with the updates, adding commentary and opinion under mine.  It is exciting that technology can provide us with both a timeline and an archive for “news as it is being made” – let’s use it!

In the meanwhile, students might want to research some of the technologies and tools used to harvest elvers.  The number and type of gear included in the licensing is also at issue.

  • one hand-dip net – specifications?  description? It is clear from a quick image search that nets come in various sizes and depths
  • funnel-shaped fyke net – ditto

Some new questions:

  • Is banning the fyke net a possible compromise, as suggested in the text of this petition?
  • Is where elver are fished for at issue?  Can it be part of a compromise?
  • What regulations do other eel-farming nations impose on elver fishing?  UK and the Netherlands are possible sources.
  • What regulations does the other elver-farming state impose? (that would be South Carolina)
  • What are possible negative ramifications to this Passamaquoddy act of defiant sovereignty?  Positive ramifications?
  • Is pitting tribe against tribe a part of a state game-plan?  (I  hope not, but it has to be considered)
  • What is the “best science” to support both sides?

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Follow the Alewives up the St. Croix River?

March 19, 2013 by · No Comments · Economics

alewife

I received the following email from The Natural Resources Council of Maine (I am a member).  I have been following the controversy over opening the St. Croix River to alewife runs by making entries in my Scoop.it : Wabanaki News and Issues for Maine.  This issue is of importance to the Passamaquoddy in addition to the NRCM and other environmental organizations. It appears that the EPA has ordered the state to open the runs, but Gov. LePage is in opposition to this order (read the Press Herald article).  Clarifying the governor’s argument should be part of the research process.   Read the Passamaquoddy website statement and a Kennebec Journal report.  A search for alewives St Croix will yield multiple resources – go back two or more years to get the full picture. Also found will be primary resource materials (the texts of research reports).

Students following this hearing and the two bills noted in the below email should think of who is sponsoring the bills and who will benefit from each.  Students might also research the importance of alewives and other fish (including elvers) to the Passamaquoddy.

—–

We need your help to restore the St. Croix River alewife run. Millions of alewives once returned to spawn in the St. Croix each spring, but now alewives are blocked from most of the river, so only about 20,000 of them make it back. Alewives are a native Maine fish essential to the Gulf of Maine ground fisheries and the lobster industry. They are also a keystone species and play a critical role at the base of the food chain. They are essential for healthy freshwater and marine ecosystems. 

Please come to a hearing at the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee on Monday, March 25 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 206 of the Cross Office Building. The St. Croix alewives need you to testify in support of LD 72, An Act to Open the St. Croix River to River Herring, and againstLD 584, An Act to Provide for Passage of River Herring on the St. Croix River in Accordance with an Adaptive Management Plan. LD 584 has a misleading title. It is simply a bill to severely limit the number of alewives in the St. Croix.

Background

The St. Croix has the potential to support as many alewives as the Penobscot and Kennebec rivers combined. But right now, St. Croix alewives can only reach about two percent of their ancestral spawning grounds.

This is because the Maine Legislature blocked the fishways at dams on the river in 1995 under pressure from  a group of smallmouth bass guides in the Grand Lake Stream area. In the late 1980s, the guides mistakenly blamed the decline of smallmouth bass in Spednic Lake (in the upper reaches of the St. Croix) on the alewife run, which was starting to thrive again after extensive state and federal efforts. The real culprits in the decline of the smallmouth bass, however, were drought and heavy drawdowns of Spednic Lake for hydropower. This exposed the areas of the lake near the shore where bass lay their eggs to the sun, killing their eggs.

Alewives are a native fish that help Maine in so many ways:

• They provide food for groundfish such as cod, halibut, and pollack. Maine needs as many alewives as possible to restore our dwindling groundfish populations.

• Seals, whales, porpoises, eagles, osprey, mink, and otter all rely on alewives for food.  

• Since the Legislature blocked alewives in the St. Croix, osprey and eagle populations there have crashed. At the same time, alewives have been restored to the Kennebec and Sebasticook rivers, so osprey and eagle populations are soaring there.

• Alewives are a crucial source of bait for Maine’s lobster industry, and the Maine Lobstermen’s Association is a strong supporter of restoring the St. Croix alewife run.

• Alewife rivers, such as the Sebasticook and the Kennebec, provide spectacular smallmouth bass fishing as well, because smallmouth bass love to eat alewives!

Maine needs a thriving alewife population in the St. Croix, and the Maine Legislature should overturn the 1995 law blocking alewives there once and for all. Maine’s wildlife and groundfish populations will see huge benefits, and so will Maine people. 

Added bonus:  restoring St. Croix alewives is free! The fishways are all in place at the dams on the river. Maine just needs to stop blocking them!

Please come to the hearing in front of the Marine Resources Committee and testify in support of LD 72 and against LD 584. Tell the Legislature to overturn the ill-conceived 1995 law. It is a self-inflicted wound on our state, and the time has come to heal.

Thank you,

Nick Bennett
Staff Scientist

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Support the Arts! Donna Loring has a new musical

March 2, 2013 by · No Comments · Arts & Culture, People

Donna Loring, Penobscot, has written a musical called The Glooskape Chronicles.  It centers on what this Indian Country Today reviewer calls the “ancient stories” of the Wabanaki, melded into contemporary life – which is where they belong.  This is another reminder that Native culture is Maine has not disappeared into the mist; it is alive, vibrant, and now Donna Loring is sharing an important element of it with us.

I anticipate that the show will help me to understand further the powerful role of Glooskape in Penobscot culture.  As a non-Native, I am uneasy about the language to use when referring to Glooskape (Gluskabe, Glooskap, Gluskap and other spellings).  Tales, legends, stories, myths, cultural hero are all words used by the Western literary tradition.  Not one of them embraces the nowness of Glooskape.  Loring’s  use of Chronicles is surely deliberate, raising Glooskape out of the flat, archived world of text (see some links below) and into the whole-cloth world of spirit.  Perhaps when I see the musical I will find better language to use in my posts.

I can’t wait to see the fall performance, even though it means a lengthy drive and a night in Orono (there are worse things to do in Maine in the fall).

In fact, I have offered some support for the production.  According to the review, you can do the same by contacting Loring at [email protected]  Please support her, if only by talking up the Chronicles.  And going to a performance!

Some Readings:

Questions:

  • Is it appropriate for Urban Legends to retell a “Glooskap tale“? 
  • Compare/Contrast a Glooskape text to another Native, a Western, or an African text with a similar theme or storyline.  How do you explain the similarities and differences? [note: most libraries have collections of myths, tales, hero stories, folklore, etc. - and many, many examples can be found online - it would be best for a student to select either a tale from another Native culture or one from his own cultural background - OR a teacher can create a CCSS lesson by providing the texts]

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Passamaquoddy Sued by Washington County: Taxes?

December 1, 2012 by · No Comments · Economics, Sovereignty

A tough economy hits everyone hard. Like you and me and the state of Maine, counties are looking carefully for uncollected funds as well as for ways to cut costs.  Washington County is one of the counties in Maine hit hardest economically.  19.8% of its population lives below the poverty level.  The county unemployment rate is 9.6%, which is the highest county figure in the state.  Within the county, the Passamaquoddy Tribe is under even more duress. Unemployment in the Passamaquoddy  Tribe is at least 50%.

Washington County needs funds, clearly.  If you have followed any of the announcements here and elsewhere of grants made to the Passamaquoddy for economic growth projects, you might believe that the Nation has money to spare.  Maybe that is what Washington County thinks too. In fact, Washington County has sued the Passamaquoddy for uncollected PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes on reservation properties).  Find news articles and a discussion of PILOTs below under Resources.  Is this truly a suit with an economic motive, or is it another challenge to Passamaquoddy sovereignty? Curious Maine students should want to know.

A key issue here is the legal position of the Passamaquoddy with regard to state, county and local taxation, which hinges on interpretation of the Land Claims Settlement of 1980.  Diana Scully’s review of the Settlement contains this statement with regard to PILOTs: “They [eg. Passamaquoddy Nation] must make payments to the State equal to the amount that would otherwise be imposed by county, district, state, or other taxing authority that are called “payments in lieu of taxes”, so Indian lands cannot be taken by the State under its tax laws.”  

2003 map of Passamaquoddy Trust Lands

The Passamaquoddy Tribe has filed a legal Notice for Removal and Complaint, which appears to be a legal maneuver to have the suit tried at a federal district court.  I don’t speak legal brief, but the Passamaquoddy do.

I can appreciate, after reviewing Land Claims materials, that the position of Washington County may be tenuous. On the other hand, previous to 2006, the Tribe did make PILOTs payments.  The Penobscot Nation makes PILOTs payments yearly.

$40,000, the estimate of back PILOTs the county has sued for, might not sound like much.  In Aroostook County South,  about $5,000,000 is assessed in taxes to defray County expenses.  In Sagadahoc County, where I live, the tax revenue is closer to $8,000,000.  [Washington County does not have a website.]  This revenue is raised through municipal property taxes, a percentage of which (over 50% in my county) goes to the county.

This is definitely worth a high school student study, precisely because the issues are so clouded by history, legal language, and inconsistencies in tribal-state-county relations within Maine itself.  It is an issue that begs for sides to be taken.  Moreover, it is great way to students to connect an authentic investigation of local communities to a larger state and national issue.  It is a civics lesson, a literacy lesson (reading legal papers, expert commentary, charts, etc.), and perhaps an ethical lesson.

Questions to be asked:

  • Why did the Passamaquoddy Tribe stop making PILOTs payments?  What was the size of these yearly PILOTs?
  • Is the County or the Tribal government responsible for property assessments on reservation land?  overall tribal properties (which would include Trust lands)?
  • What exemptions apply to Trust Lands?
  • What exactly ARE the taxation terms of the Land Claims Settlement?
  • Do the Passamaquoddy tax their own reservation property owners (as a municipality may do)?
  • How does the average PILOT’s assessment compare to the tax paid to municipalities in Washington County of similar population?
  • Does the state directly tax Passamaquoddy tribal members?
  • Do state sales taxes apply to goods sold on reservations?
  • Why is Indian Country (nationwide) following this story?  What are the implications for reservations, trust lands, and Nations all over the USA?
  • What is a county in Maine responsible for vis-a-vis a municipality?  a Native reservation?
  • What is the annual budget of the student’s county?  What are the property taxes of the student’s family?  What is the percentage of this tax that goes to the student’s county?
  • What specific county expenditures benefit the Passamaquoddy Tribe?  Compare/contrast with a municipality within the county and/or with the student’s own town.  Which of these county programs/expenses are also the responsibility of the tribal governments?

Resources:

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The Twilight Series and Native Americans

November 17, 2012 by · No Comments · Arts & Culture, LD291, Literature

Debbie Reese’s AICL posts on the Twilight Saga

In her blog AICL (American Indians in Children’s Literature) Native scholar and educator Dr. Debbie Reese (Nambe Pueblo) has written quite a bit about the portrayal of the Quileute Tribe in the Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga.  To the right you can find the current list of her posts.  Access this by scrolling down the right sidebar at any AICL page.  On Friday the 12th of November, after the debut of Breaking Dawn – Part 2, Debbie was interviewed by Native America Calling.  In the interview and in response to questions, she discusses the impact of the saga and the films on Native Americans.  The Twilight discussion begins after minute 6:15.

Needless to say, Debbie Reese is critical of both the novels and the movies. It is not enough to be critical, however.  It is important that criticism is supported with fact and analysis.  For this reason, her pieces and this extended interview/call-in program belong in the classroom.

Just because the Natives in Twilight are not from Maine does not mean that the misrepresentations and stereotypes in this popular series have not impacted – do not continue to impact – Maine’s students, both Native and non-Native.  Maine’s students, who like students all over the country have read the series and seen the movies, can stretch their own critical thinking and analysis skills by listening to the interview and reading Debbie’s posts (I recommend chronological order).  They can scroll through other topics that Debbie has addressed over the years, many of which have been discussed in this blog as well.

This the framework for a perfect middle or high school Common Core unit. Have students:

  • read and listen to Debbie and other sources (below) – perhaps read one of the Twilight books or view one of the movies as a class
  • follow through on some of the issues raised in the critical texts
  • formulate a critical response to one of the questions below – write or author a persuasive or analytical response – share it
  • debate
  • compare/contrast one of the Twilight books/movies with a book/movie portraying a different culture OR Natives in a different movie (re: Dances With Wolves or The Black Robe) OR in a native produced film (The Lesser Blessed is a good one) OR in a Native written novel (see my Top 10 (or Less or More) page for novel recommendations)

Students should ask:

  • Is Twilight racist?
  • What is the persistant popular appeal of the Native American cultural myth?
  • To what degree do film and fiction affect our beliefs and understandings about other cultures?  Specifically, how about beliefs about Maine’s Native tribes?
  • Are readers and film viewers able to separate fantasy from reality with regard to the portrayals of Native and other cultures?
  • What other examples of Native stereotyping can students identify in their immediate worlds?
  • Why do authors, publishers, editors, artists, manufacturers, etc. continue to ignore the Native criticism of their products?  How would they defend their representations of Native culture?
  • Is there a positive, as well as negative, impact on Native society?
  • Should something be done to support those, like Debbie Reese, who persist in trying to raise awareness and sensitivity? What can be done?
  • Should Twilight and other stereotypical novels be included in the school curriculum?
  • Where do Native-type stereotypes appear in other “survival” literature that you have read (eg.: HatchetThe Hunger GamesLord of the Flies)?  [An eBook example is Heinlein's The Tunnel in the Sky].

Debbie Reese’s is not the only voice that raises in the Twilight issue.  Below are a few other resources that I find informative; there are many more to be found online.

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Tribal Representatives in Maine: Should Their Votes Count?

November 9, 2012 by · No Comments · History, LD291

David Slagger resigned his elected office as the Maliseet representative to the Maine Legislature in order to run for the District 22 House representative. On Nov. 6th, he lost that race to Republican Stacey Kay Guerin by a considerable margin (he received just over a quarter of the vote).   Why is this of importance?  The votes of the Native representatives in the Maine Legislature do not count, and Slagger resigned his office because of this.  It would be a short unit of study, a practice debate unit perhaps, for students in middle or high school to take a look at the question of whether or not the tribal representative law – over 150 years old – should be changed.

Students would need to ask:

  • What is the reason for the Tribal Representatives?  Has this changed in the last 10 years?
  • Are the tribes equally represented?
  • Are tribal members represented by non-tribal elected representatives?  Do they vote for these offices (are registered to vote in state elections when living on reservations)?
  • Would current voting registration change if tribal representatives were given counting votes in the Legislature?
  • What are the specific points in favor of and opposed to voting (counted vote) representation?
  • What do other states do?

Students would need to research:

  • current tribal representatives and how they are chosen – committees on which they sit – bills they have sponsored or supported (this might also be a historical topic)
  • the make-up of the Maine legislature (number of voting representatives in each branch)
  • overlap of tribal reservation lands and Maine House and Senate districts
  • changes in the way tribal representatives have been seated and treated in Maine

Resources (starting points):

Possible outcomes:

  • Written recommendation to the Legislature (local representatives) about Tribal Representatives – or presentation
  • Student debates
  • Formal essay, persuasive or informational

How would Maine’s tribes benefit from full voting representation… at AnswerGarden.ch.

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The Question of a 6th Native Settlement in Maine

September 21, 2012 by · No Comments · Sovereignty

Moosehead Lake region

Do all Maine Natives see eye-to-eye?  No, they do not.  Nor do they do they look alike, think alike, or agree on everything.  That is simple-stereotype thinking.

It’s refreshing to find an instance of this diversity of Native thought prominent in today’s news.  To the left, you will find a link to an article about David Slagger seeking national recognition of the Moosehead band of Maliseet.  An update on this article can be read and listened to at the MPBN website: Group of Maliseets in Maine Seeks Federal Recognition.

Students in Maine can learn much from following up on this story.  All of the Natives interviewed and/or quoted in the story can be readily located.  The chances are very good that each will respond to serious student requests for more insight into the question of a Moosehead band. Additionally, students can contact local Moosehead community leaders, economic leaders and business owners, residents, the state representatives for the Moosehead region, and perhaps even students in an area school.  Chief Brenda Commander, Houlton Band of Maliseet, might respond to a student request.

Students will want to visit, or revisit, the locations of the five Maine native tribal groups.  They will also want to research Maliseet pre-Contact/ancestral territory (this will be difficult and somewhat confusing, but a general sense can be obtained from print and online sources – see Mapping the Wabanakis, which has some broken links, but will serve as a beginning).

Students might ask:

  • Process:
    • What are the criteria for federal recognition?  What data must be collected and presented?
    • What exactly is the process?
  • Impact:
    • How will federal recognition impact the other five recognized Wabanaki tribes?
    • How will it benefit the new Moosehead band, should it be recognized?
    • What will be the trickle down – or domino – impacts on state economy and legislature?
    • Would there be an impact on non-natives living and/or employed in the area of the proposed Moosehead band?
  • System of Government:
    • What was the “government” of each tribe before the Chief – Council system?
    • How, exactly, did a matriarchial system work to sustain culture and tribal community?
    • What are the reasons for Slagger’s desire to create a new form of tribal governance?
    • What would be the process?
    • What was the rationale behind the Chief – Council system?  Did it, in fact, serve to support tribal assimilation?  If so, how?

These are questions that today’s tribal leaders and historians can address.  The answers offer students not only deeper understanding of Maine’s Native nations historically, but also a deeper understanding of how sovereign Native nations function in relation to the state and federal governments.

With this understanding, students can write essays for the Maine Wabanaki essay contest.  They can write articles for local news.  They can send position papers to Maine’s senators and representatives, and to their local representatives.  They can share their research with other students in Maine.

This is terrific opportunity for Maine’s middle and high school teachers to move students beyond Wabanaki cultural history and into the realities of today that are at the heart of LD 291.  This is an great opportunity for students to confront the fact that Maine’s Native are – not were.

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