WHO TAKES PART IN THE JOURNEY:
MAINE’S LAND TRUSTS:
As owners or holders of rights of over 2 million acres of land around the state, land trusts may have places that offer opportunities for Wabanaki uses, storytelling and presence.
A land trust is a charitable organization that acquires land or conservation easements, or that stewards land or easements, to achieve one or more conservation purposes that may include protecting natural habitat, water quality, or scenic views; ensuring that the land is always available for farming, forestry, or outdoor recreational use; or protecting other values provided by open land. For a number of reasons, land trusts generally do very little to no advocacy work, instead focusing primarily on working cooperatively with landowners to complete real estate transactions, sometimes purchasing property interests, sometimes accepting donations of those interests. They also try to connect people with land in different ways – owning and managing lands as available for public use and enjoyment, hosting outdoors events, leading walks, teaching about nature and its resources, and creating educational programming for schools and other groups about plants, wildlife, and land stewardship.
Maine has about 90 land trusts around the state, ranging in size from global scale organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, to statewide ones such as Maine Farmland Trust or Forest Society of Maine, to regional, to very localized and often all-volunteer that work only in one small area/town.
This Journey involves a subset of about 25 of those land trusts, Friends groups, and funders who are interested in exploring the possibilities of connections with Wabanaki people, needs and interests.
MAINE’S WABANAKI TRIBAL NATIONS
Wabanaki means “people of the dawn land” and is a term that refers collectively to the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, and Eastern Abenaki tribal nations whose territories make up the lands now known as Maine in the United States, and eastern Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick Provinces in Canada. Historians claim that the Wabanaki have lived on this land for more than 12,000 years; oral history asserts they have been here since the beginning. They defined their richness by the health and balance of their people, their relationship with the land, and their ability to ensure the health and well-being of their people in practical ways. At the core of Wabanaki culture are strongly held values of generosity and reciprocity; life depended on cooperation, and relationships were created and maintained through routine sharing.
Within the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot nations, there are nearly 8,000 tribal members in Maine today. Due to a tumultuous history that we will learn about, Wabanaki language and history is often not known or told, and those longstanding ties to places are in danger of being forgotten. Wabanaki do not always feel welcome to visit places that they once used, visited, lived in, and need access to land and water to teach or practice their culture, or cultivate and harvest plants important to their culture such as brown ash and sweetgrass.