Below is a timeline of events that made up curriculum of First Light Learning Journey 2020-2021. The key questions and goals of the curriculum are described in this program overview.

If you are a representative of a conservation organization, state agency, or foundation and are interested in joining future programs, please reach out to to be added to the invitation list.

Past curriculum:

Convocation of First Light Learning Journey
September 24th, 2020
A gathering of all 100 non-native conservationists committed to First Light Learning Journey to share our framing purpose, share lessons, and set expectations.

Hands Working Together
September 25th and 26th , 2020
Would a land trust manage their forestland to produce an old growth birch to be harvested by a future Wabanaki craftsperson in 2090? How do western conservation values of “leave no trace” conflict with Native values around living on the land and leaving a beautiful trace? Are we able to move beyond old concepts of “stewardship” to a new relationship between people and the land and between people themselves?
These provocative questions were engaged in Hands Working Together, a virtual First Light gathering to discuss a shared vision for living with the land with 10 Native speakers. By exploring these issues, and understanding the long history of Native land dispossession, we built cultural competency among the land trusts while also exploring other ways that they might steward their conserved lands that open possibilities for Wabanaki access and use.

See below for a list of Native speakers:

Independent learning and reading month.
October 2020

Decolonizing Conservation Communities workshop
November 2020
Four Zoom sessions: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm on 11/10, 11/12, 11/17, and 11/19.
Designed and led by Maine-Wabanaki REACH facilitators. Read a description of their program on REACH’s website here.
This highly interactive, 12-hour program provided participants with the unique opportunity to learn about elements of the harmful history of how the lands and waters of Maine have been stolen from the Wabanaki people, understand the concepts and impact of continuing colonization and decolonization, grapple with the role of conservation communities in continuing colonization and the urgent need to decolonize Wabanaki territory, and identify strategies for repair, healing, and working through the challenges of shifting to a culture of decolonization.

The Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act and Wabanaki Sovereignty with Corey Hinton
December 10th, 2020
Two Zoom Sessions: 10:00 – 11:30 am and 2:00 – 3:30 pm.
In the morning from 10:00-11:30 am, Corey introduced us to the land claims history and from 2-3:30 pm he presented on how the Settlement Act has been implemented in Maine and its future directions.

The Indigenous History of Western Maine with Mali Obomsawin
January 21st, 2021

One Zoom session 10:30 am -12:30 pm
Mali Obomsawin, citizen of the Odanak Abenaki first nation, offered us a deeper understanding of what Indigenous Maine means today by sharing the story of the Abenaki people of Kennebec Valley, many of whose descendants are now in Quebec. She shared her historical recovery work on the Wabanaki history of western Maine, and her project to bring Abenaki people back home to Maine.

Independent learning and reading month
February 2021

Mid Journey Gathering and Evaluation
February 19th, 2021
One Zoom session 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Non-native participants in First Light gathered to discuss and evaluate the Learning Journey thus far.

Colonization, Recognition, and Identity: A  dialogue and discovery between Kyle Lolar and Peter Forbes
March 25th, 2021
One Zoom session 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Read the event description here.

Tools to Expand Indigenous Access to Land with Beth Rose Middleton
April 9th, 2021

Two Zoom sessions: 11:00 am – 12:30 pm and 2:00 – 4:00 pm EST.
From Beth Rose Middleton: “Until recently, the development of conservation tools and processes did not foreground Indigenous rights, responsibilities, histories, or a broader concept of justice. With reference to the important influence of international Indigenous movements (leading, for example, to the UN-Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), domestic advocacy (i.e., civil rights and American Indian movements), and tribal jurisdictional innovations, I will discuss a shift in the development and application of conservation tools (such as easements, land trust structures, and formal agreements) and processes (including state and federal environmental and historic protection procedures) to achieve justice. We will examine both the history of conservation laws and processes, contemplate the ways in which they contributed to injustice, and move to an examination of liberatory, Indigenous-led applications of conservation tools, processes, practices, and partnerships to achieve greater justice.”

Voices from the Barrens panel with Wabanaki guests
April 28th, 2021
One Zoom Session 4:00 – 6:00 pm
First Light will host a screening of Voices from the Barrens and panel with Wabanaki blueberry rakers. We are showing “Voices of the Barrens” to the Learning Journey because it gives a vision of what’s possible when Wabanaki relationships to the land were restored through the Settlement Act at one Passamaquoddy blueberry barren. It tells a story of Wabanaki peoples’ connection to place, the traditions they practice on the land, and community that this allows for. We will also have the opportunity to hear directly from Wabanaki blueberry rakers about their relationship to the barrens and the experience of gathering each summer for harvest. Featured panelists included Natasha Brown, Matt Dana II, Natalie Rose Dana Lolar, Priscilla Gould and filmmaker Nancy Ghertner.

Field Trips to walk the land with Wabanaki
May 2021

Because of COVID-19, we are doing only one field trip for 15 of our Wabanaki colleagues on May 10th for them to see opportunities to harvest ash and other resources of Appalachian Mountain Club land.

Katahdin Gathering: Leadership summit between the Wabanaki Commission and Conservation Community Delegation
June 2nd and 3rd, 2021

Becoming Leaders for Change and panel discussion with the Wabanaki Commission
June 10th, 2021

Two sessions: 9-11 am and 1-2:30 pm.
The morning session from 9-11 am discussed how to be leaders within our organizations for Wabanaki prosperity. We heard directly from conservationists on the Delegation who have been working for years to put their learning about Wabanaki priorities and history into practice.
In the afternoon from 1-3 pm, we were honored to hear from members of the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship about their intentions and hopes for the future.

Organizational Legacies Of Inheriting Harm, Disrupting Harm
July 15th, 2021
Three Zoom sessions, 9:00-10:30 am, 11:00-12:30 pm, and 2:00-3:30 pm.
In this series, we advanced conversations in response to Kyle Lolar’s question of our cohort, why did your ancestors leave home?  We made space to reflect on how our ancestral lineages influence our organizational cultures today, and shared examples of how organizations have disrupted these legacies and created new ways of sharing resources and fulfilling their missions. 

Medicine for Each Other?
September 22nd, 2021

Full day: 4 90-minute Zoom sessions on the Autumn Equinox

At the conclusion of this First Light year-long learning journey, Wabanaki and non-Wabanaki will come together with healers, elders, and young people around our central aspiration to be medicine for each other. What is medicine today, and how might we be medicine to one another in a world of betrayal? How do we become our own healers and work to begin a new chapter of relationship? What do we ask of each other? What can we commit to one another?