First Light Learning Journey

First Light is an ongoing collaborative effort, begun in 2017, between Maine conservation organizations and Wabanaki Tribes to expand Wabanaki access and stewardship of land. Our long work is reciprocity: we seek Wabanaki prosperity through access and stewardship of land and we seek to create a stronger conservation movement that includes and reflects indigenous expertise and perspective. Through expanding Wabanaki stewardship of land, we hope to contribute toward growing the conditions for an on-going prosperity of Wabanaki language, culture and economy. We will all benefit from this, and it all begins with the land.

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Why

WE CARE DEEPLY ABOUT LAND AND PLACE:

Maine’s Native people, and people involved in land conservation in Maine, care deeply for and about land and place.  This shared care for nature creates opportunities. Cultural and economic prosperity begins with the land.  First Light recognizes that 350 years of oppression and racism has systematically taken from the Wabanaki the great majority of land and water that once made Wabanaki culture and prosperity.  Today, Wabanaki people have access to less than 1% of the land that once supported their place-based cultures. Land Trusts now have ties to almost 20% of the state which very likely includes untold places of importance to Wabanaki people.

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What

WHAT IS THE JOURNEY:

First Light is an ongoing, sustained learning journey between two cultures, Wabanaki culture and conservation culture, for the express purpose of expanding Wabanaki stewardship of land.   Conservation leaders learn about Wabanaki land loss in Maine and about indigenous land loss across the Americas and then learn from the contemporary lives of each the five Wabanaki communities.  Wabanaki leaders travel to land trust offices and conservation areas to learn about the philosophy, ideology and practical tools of conservation.  Together, Wabanaki and conservationists create “third spaces” that are co-creations of both cultures.

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Who

TAKE PART IN THE JOURNEY:

Members of First Light Learning Journey are the four Wabanaki Tribes plus interested individual tribal members and the program directors, senior staff, board members, and land managers for Maine’s largest conservation groups.  Our goal, not yet fully realized, is to have the membership of First Light exactly reflect the land stewardship needs of the Wabanaki people.

Here’s a current roster of participants in First Light Learning Journey 

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Hopes & Goals

What we journey toward: