A planning team for forming the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship Nil yut ktahkomiq nik (the whole earth is our home) has been meeting since January 2020. Representatives to the Commission will be Tribally appointed and the Commission will be formally seated in December 2020.
The mission of the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship Nil yut ktahkomiq nik (the whole earth is our home) is to improve the health and well-being of Wabanaki people through a sustained effort to expand our access, management, and ownership of lands to practice our land-based cultures across Wabanaki homeland in what is now the State of Maine. We, representatives of the Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy Tribe-Indian Township, Passamaquoddy Tribe-Pleasant Point, The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, and the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, support this mission by acquiring lands and by sharing and co-managing, in the spirit of reciprocity, land that is currently owned by land trust and conservation organizations. To support this collaborative work, we seek to create, through partnership and education, a stronger conservation movement that includes and reflects Wabanaki expertise and perspective. As Wabanaki representatives, we offer our insights and wisdom to the conservation community to identify and protect lands of great importance across the state of Maine.
Beginning in Fall of 2017, in concert with Wabanaki leaders and educators, representatives of Maine’s land trust and conservation organizations began a collaborative journey with the 4 Wabanaki Tribal Nations in Maine to repair relationships, grant legal access, share and repatriate land. At the June 2019 First Light Learning Journey gathering in Millinocket in the shadow of Ktaadn/Ktoton, Wabanaki participants met separately on our own for a conversation. Afterwards, we suggested the creation of a Wabanaki leadership group or task force to bring Tribes together around issues tied to land, to focus energy and to efficiently communicate their needs in this relationship between conservationists and Wabanaki people. Wabanaki leaders made this specific request of conservation leadership: help us to build our capacity and a more unified voice to respond to the land stewardship opportunities that you are presenting.
Why Form a Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship:
- To continue to create and foster connections among Wabanaki and conservation practitioners.
- To add staffed capacity and provide staffed capacity and a forum for representatives of the Wabanaki Tribal Nations in Maine to give focused time and discuss the many issues tied to land and access, and to speak with one voice;
- To increase Wabanaki capacity to respond to and engage with land trusts and landowners as more become willing to provide access to lands, and to encourage broader awareness of Wabanaki ties to land;
- Create pathways for Wabanaki access, ownership, and co-management of culturally important, including archaeological, lands across the State of Maine.