Blog: Voices of Decolonization

Movers and Shakers of Contemporary Wabanaki History

 By Maria Girouard


Riding the wave of excitement created by the Women's March in Washington, we would like to recognize movers and shakers of contemporary Wabanaki history.

Passamaquoddy women of Indian Township should be credited with creating the momentum for what eventually became the historic and precedent-setting Maine Indian Land Claims case.

In May 1964, when a local business man set out to build a road through land that he said he won in a poker game, several women of Indian Township stood up to him and asserted that the land was undoubtedly Passamaquoddy land. A sit-in to protect their land ensued. They blocked the road with a canoe and stopped any attempts for gravel, sand or lumber to be moved to the site. Their bold actions resulted in their eventual arrest.

Phyllis Sabattus, Pauline N. Stevens, Rita M. Ranco, and Delia R. Mitchell, four Passamaquoddy women from Indian Township, were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after "refusing to move from a sand pile at the site of a piece of disputed land at Princeton."

Their arrest and subsequent search for legal representation became the catalyst for the land claims that resulted in the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980.

Maine-Wabanaki REACH is committed to truth, healing, and change. One way that we achieve this is by educating about our collective history.

Join us in acknowledging the National Day of Racial Healing!


REACH is proud to be part of the WK Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Initiative and joins over 130 organizations from across the country in calling for a National Day of Racial Healing on January 17, 2017.

This Day marks the start of a year-long effort to advance racial healing in communities across the country in order to create an environment where all children can thrive.

Overall, in 2017, communities, organizations and individuals are being asked to:

  •  Proclaim a new narrative that refutes the ideology of a hierarchy of human value and replaces it with the scientifically  proven assertion that we are all descendants of one human ancestry endowed by our creator with the inalienable right to  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
  •  Acknowledge that there are still deep racial divisions in America that must be overcome and healed; and
  •  Commit to engaging representatives from all racial, ethnic, religious and identity groups in genuine efforts to increase understanding, communication, caring and respect for one another and the perceived other.

We invite you to join us in recognizing the National Day of Racial Healing in your own way, within your family, community, workplace or place of worship.

This website link has more information and a suggested list of activities to get you started. Day of Racial Healing

Please comment on our facebook page and let us know how you plan to celebrate! 2017 the year of racial healing, let's start writing a history for our grandchildren that we can be proud of! REACH Facebook Page

#TheDayToHeal #DayOfRacialHealing #TRHT

Woliwon ~ Woliwoni ~ Walalin, Heartfelt Thanks

As 2016 comes to a close, we would like to take time to show our appreciation to all those who have contributed to truth, healing and change.  Maine-Wabanaki REACH thrives on wonderful support from our communities – hundreds of individuals donate their time, money, and other resources. 

Thank you all!  

At a recent ally workshop, we struggled, as we often do, with technology that is not working well.  One of the participants noticed and stepped in to our aide.  The result is a grant from the Charles G. Wright Endowment for Humanity to support the purchase of presentation equipment.  We are so grateful!

 The Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine awarded REACH the Hands of Peace Award.  The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association awarded REACH a blue ribbon for most informational display at the Common Ground Fair social and political action tents.  We are buoyed by such lovely recognition of our work.  Thank you!

The following organizations donated space for REACH events in 2016:

Arookstook Band of Micmacs; Blue Hill Public Library; Calais Free Library; Cary Library in Houlton; Cobscook Community Learning Center; Colby College; Families And Children Together; Foreside Community Church; Lubec Memorial Library; Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center; Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine; Passamaquoddy Tribe at Motahkmihkuk and Sipyaik; Penobscot Nation; Rockland Congregational Church; Turner Public Library in Presque Isle; Unitarian Universalist Community Church in Augusta; Unitarian Universalist Church Ellsworth; USM's Muskie School of Public Service; Volunteers of America – Bangor; and the Wabanaki Cultural Center in Calais.

We so appreciate your support for our work!

Wabanaki Health, Wellness & Self-Determination - Summer News 2016

Sipayik_4th_-_5th_Grade_kkihkan_-_Wanbanaki_Health_Wellness_Blog_piece_2.jpgREACH Wellness work leads with the premise that the solution to or wellness lies in our culture. We continue to put forth the idea of decolonization – or reclaiming traditional ways of knowing and being that were disrupted as a result of colonization.

When our homelands were colonized, it resulted in loss of territory and undermined traditional sustenance practices which served us exceedingly well for millennia. In addition to hunting and fishing, our ancestors practiced communal gardening, wild harvesting and gathering.

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History Impacts

Sunrise_in_Sipayik.jpgThe Wabanaki, or “People of the Dawn,” are the first people of the area known today as Northeastern New England and Maritime 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 have always 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.

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Restorative Justice for Wabanaki People

FullSizeRender_-_3rd_Blog_Piece.jpgWe do not heal in isolation
We need compassionate support

Restorative justice is a way of being that focuses on relations and resolving harm. Restorative justice recognizes and acknowledges harm caused by crime and acts of wrongdoing and provides a different way to deal with the harm that is caused.

Restorative justice is justice that promotes healing.

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