Announcing the Second Cohort of First Light Learning Journey: September 2020 – June 2021

Deadline to send commitment letter: September 15th, 2020

Why our Learning Journey program will be virtual in 2020

We encourage private and public land-holding entities and entities that work closely with them to participate in the second cohort of the Learning Journey component of First Light, an ongoing collaboration between the conservation community and Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac Communities.

The goals of First Light are to expand Wabanaki access and stewardship of land and to create a stronger conservation movement that includes and reflects Indigenous expertise and perspective. Through expanding Wabanaki stewardship of land, we hope to also grow the conditions for an on-going prosperity of Wabanaki language, culture and economy. All will benefit from this, and it all begins with the land.

First Light is 3 years old and in addition to fostering connections, our major accomplishments include the co-creation of a Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship (Nil yut ktahkomiq nik, the whole earth is our home) representing all five tribal communities, the co-creation of a Conservation Community Delegation to pool and focus the financial and human resources of Maine’s conservation community, a very successful Katahdin Gathering of participants from the Tribal communities and from conservation groups, and the granting of harvest permits over 62,000 acres.

This cohort of the Learning Journey focuses on private and public land-holding entities and entities that work closely with them. The goals of the Learning Journey are to build awareness and understanding about Indigenous land loss, to develop and practice equitable principles for Native engagement, and to create new tools to share land and resources. Another significant goal of the Learning Journey is to broaden and increase the number of groups who might be willing and able to step up to facilitate or convey access rights, to organize the repatriation of land, and to work alongside Wabanaki Tribal communities in acquiring new lands.  Per request of our Wabanaki colleagues, members of this cohort need to demonstrate and express documented organizational commitment to the journey.

An overview of the year-long curriculum can be accessed here and includes collaborations with Maine Wabanaki REACH, the Native Land Trust Council and the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship. This cohort is anticipated to begin in mid-September 2020 and would involve approximately 12 days of your time.

First Light Learning Journey makes real the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion within the conservation movement.  Our program is focused on specific individual leaders working within organizations committed to the process of learning, evolving and returning of land, access and resources to Wabanaki tribes.  Building awareness and understanding is the means by which we get to our end goal of repairing and returning land at the speed of trust.

The level of commitment we need to continue to be effective is high: 1) an organizational commitment letter, similar to this example, the 2) designation of a minimum of 2 people from your organization, and the 3) commitment from them that they will participate in all of the core programs throughout the year. 

We believe that participation of 2 people from each organization is essential in order to carry the learning back to each respective organization.  We suggest one participant to be a senior staff member and the other a board member, but this is not a requirement. These two people will be critical to the process of organizational change that is necessary to meet our goals.

The financial costs of our curriculum and program are underwritten by Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Kalliopeia Foundation, Broad Reach Fund, Quimby Family Foundation and more than a dozen individual donors. A small number of fellowships are available to help offset travel costs for organizations for whom these costs are an obstacle to engagement.

To help you consider this invitation and its responsibilities, we urge you to:

  1. Read the curriculum overview.
  2. Spend time on the resource pages of First Light.
  3. Speak with any of the previous participants in First Light or the Conservation Community Delegation: Jess Burton, Susan Caldwell, Molly Payne-Wynne, Kirstin Peet, Steve Tatko, Ciona Ulbrich, or Bryan Wentzell.
  4. Participate in the upcoming First Light informational webinar and Q&A (Date and time TBA).
  5. Speak with us personally about your questions.

We hope that you will become a participant by providing us with your commitment letter by September 15, 2020.

Tentative timeline of events for the Learning Journey 2020-2021:

September 24 -26, 2020
Hands Working Together: Leave no Trace or Leave a Beautiful Trace, a new shared vision for land Stewardship in Maine
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 behind medicine bundles and a beautiful trace? We will answer these provocative questions in a program called Hands Working Together: Leave no Trace or Leave a Beautiful Trace, a gathering to discuss a shared vision for living with the land. By exploring these issues, and understanding the long history of Native land dispossession, we build 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.

October 2020
Independent learning and reading month

November 2020, four days TBA
Four three-hour sessions each week led by Maine-Wabanaki REACH

December 2020, one day TBA
Discussion of Treaties and the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act

January 7th, 2021
Solastalgia and Blood Memory with Natalie Lolar and Tony Sutton

February 11th, 2021
Second Cohort of the Learning Journey Zoom call

March 2021, one day TBA
New Directions in Tribal Conservation with Beth Rose Middleton.

May 6th, 2021
Warrior for Change: how to be leaders within our organizations for Wabanaki prosperity.

June 2, 3, 2021
Katahdin Gathering: Leadership summit.

July 15th, 2021
What will it take to achieve our vision: focus on organizational change with Peter Forbes.

August 19th, 2021
Concluding Event: Becoming Medicine for Each Other, with Wabanaki guests.