REACH provides presentations and workshops across Maine, including in institutions of higher education for faculty, staff, and students. Colleges and universities are the sites of thinking, research, learning, and creative expression. They also have been the generators of knowledge – including that which is colonized. However, there is greater movement afoot for Maine colleges and universities to generate decolonized knowledge.
Faculty, staff, and students engaged in REACH educational programs seek to correct the erroneous history we all have been taught, exposing present-day oppression, and creating a more just history for our grandchildren. Some have been working to create positive change long before REACH, while others are just beginning their journey to learn about decolonization.
Maine institutions of higher learning have history and present reality to acknowledge and grapple with from the theft of Wabanaki land and massacre of Wabanaki people to conflicts when academic theories contribute to the continued colonial oppression of Native people. Repairing those harms can begin by ensuring culturally grounded support for Native students, by recruiting and retaining Native faculty and staff, by developing decolonized coursework, by the University of Maine system reinstating the Native American Tuition Waiver and Scholarship Program as it was intended, and by other colleges creating tuition waiver programs for Native students.
U-Maine campuses (UMA, UMM, UMO, USM, and UMPI), Bates, Colby, Bowdoin, and other schools are collaborating with REACH to host learning experiences about colonization and decolonization. Ongoing groups at UMO and USM focus on transforming their institutions by learning about the history and current reality of tribal-state relations, creating greater capacity to be truth tellers about the adverse impacts of colonial oppression on Native communities, and building supports to improve Native students’ experience and increase their recruitment, retention, and academic success.
Maine colleges and universities are recognizing their responsibility for strengthening higher education for the benefit of Native students and Wabanaki communities. They are starting with learning about and understanding the history that brought us to this point, acknowledging the harms they can repair, and leveraging their collective strengths and privileges to begin creating change by:
- Supporting new and ongoing Native American student groups;
- Reviewing (and hopefully reversing) the changes made in 2012 to the Native American Tuition Waiver and Scholarship Program;
- Creating dedicated residence hall space for Native students;
- Establishing dedicated meeting space for Native student groups;
- Making Wabanaki language class accessible to other UM campuses through distance technology;
- Networking between colleges and universities to share these innovations.
To request an educational presentation or workshop visit this link to our website: http://www.mainewabanakireach.org/request_an_event