First Light recognizes very disturbing trends:  we recognize that the growth of the conservation movement in Maine came about by acquiring the lands that Wabanaki people were forced to relinquish.  We do not want to perpetuate this stark world of winners and losers and seek to use our power and privilege today to share, reconcile, and repatriate.  This desire is about reciprocity not charity. Wabanaki prosperity and deep connection and use of this entire landscape of Maine enriches Maine immeasurably and enriches our conservation movement immeasurably.

This work arises from those within a conservation movement who seek to learn and change, and from dialogue with Wabanaki leaders have been willing to share their time and stories.  We hope our shared narrative about place can grow over time as result of successful projects.

The imperative for why this work is important is best captured in this 2019 poem by Natalie Dana-Lolar, Passamaquoddy:

In this time
In this time of posted land.
Where do we go...
How do we live...
No food and medicine and gathered...
No game honorably killed and eaten...

In this time of posted land.
Where can we go without being shot at.
Can we live sustainably...
How do we maintain our culture...
No sweetgrass picked.
No ash fallen.

In this time of posted land.
Where can we go, where is our place...
Can we live interconnected...
How do we maintain us as a people.
No lands to move seasonally.
No way to maintain our ancestor’s way of life.

In this time of posted land.
Where can we look for help.
Can we call upon our allies.
How do we know who to trust.
No continual ancestry land.
No way to move about.
In this time of posted land
Is there hope....

To reach that hope, we need to create a reliably safe place for culture change within the conservation movement.  First Light helps Maine conservationists to grow and exercise their cultural competency muscles through exploring Wabanaki history, the history of colonization and indigenous land loss, and the meaning and value of decolonizing conservation. If our conservation movement can focus its attention on expanding Wabanaki access to land and water, which is dependent on key leaders and organizations discussing colonization and the role of land conservation to decolonization, we will have created a practical place to begin a much-needed long-term dialogue in conservation on race, power and privilege.

What is the Journey