We support Native inmates in Maine prisons in a variety of ways. We provide connection by sharing current community news stories of healing, history, language, and cultural teachings through a newsletter called The Messenger, mailing our biannual newsletter, and uploading programming onto inmates’ tablets. We have provided books, spiritual and cultural items, and holistic peace and healing circles to Native men and women in Maine prisons since 2014. In these circles, which have been postponed during the pandemic, we teach self-soothing tools and techniques, share history, language, and cultural teachings, and connect through the power of sharing. Brian Altvater, a Passamaquoddy pipe carrier who has conducted sweat lodge ceremonies in Maine prisons for decades, continues to do so as the Wabanaki Wellness Coordinator for REACH.
At the request of tribal elders, we are building the capacity of our communities to welcome our incarcerated relatives home so they can repair harm and restore relationships. We provide education in Wabanaki communities about the ways in which Native people are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system and we teach about Restorative Justice and restorative practices that are traditional to Wabanaki culture.