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Ways to Honor Indigenous People this Season

Indigenous People’s Day is October 10th! Learn about how Indigenous People’s Day came to be in Maine via Maine State Muesum and News Center Maine. Keep reading to learn about ways to engage with this important day both in-person and remote in the coming weeks.

Have you heard of the Pejepscot Portage Mapping Group? It’s a group of various professors, artists, activists, and others in Brunswick focused on indigenous representation in this area, past as well as present. This group is part of the Midcoast Indigenous Awareness Group (MIAG), a group of midcoast Maine residents working to raise awareness in ourselves and others about local and regional Indigenous cultures, histories, and current challenges through education and programming. They will be offering two live programs at Curtis Memorial Library as part of the Indigenous People’s Day holiday season:

  • “Many Voices: Who Gets to Tell the Story? How does our community understand itself in terms of its Indigenous past and present?”
    • Facilitated panel discussion, September 28th at 6:00pm, Curtis Memorial Library
    • Panelists: Heather Augustine, Mihku Paul, James Francis, Joe Hall, and Steve Weems, moderated by Rev. Dr. H Roy Partridge Jr.
    • Click here to learn more about this event
  • “A Path to Community – Seeking to learn more about the place we now call Brunswick”

A great way to continue learning about and supporting Indigenous communities is to attend educational events and support Wabanaki REACH! They’re hosting a film screening and panel discussion next month that you may want to check out: “Voices from the Barrens, Native People, Blueberries and Sovereignty, documents the wild blueberry harvest of the Wabanaki Indigenous People from the USA and Canada as the tribes are challenged to balance blueberry hand raking traditions with the economics of the world market.” Learn more here.

Another way to engage with Indigenous People’s Day, specifically in relation to the outdoors, is to check out the webinar linked below: Indigenous Voices in the Outdoors, co-hosted by Rethink Outside™ and First Nations Development Institute.

BTLT understands that the conservation movement has a history fraught with exclusionary practices. We know that the history of the land we manage and an array of privileges that have supported our organization are rooted in the marginalization and disenfranchisement of many people. We recognize that the burdens of environmental damage, climate change, and lack of access to land-based resources are disproportionately placed on communities of color, Indigenous communities, people with physical and mental disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and low-income communities because of biases and other disparities. We acknowledge our responsibility to understand that past and to commit to making the future different. To read more about BTLT’s commitment to a more just and equitable future, please click here. 

Mowita’nej Epijij Garden

Androscoggin Woods Trail NOW OPEN

By George Jutras – BTLT Land Steward

This past Saturday, November 6th, marked the official opening of our newest public access property, Androscoggin Woods, which was conserved by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust in 2019. Androscoggin Woods is 53 acres in size, stretches two miles along the Androscoggin River, and is home to 12 acres of wetlands which provide important habitat for many plant and animal species as well as a buffer along the river against the impacts of further development.

In addition to its value for ecological conservation, the Androscoggin Woods property presents an opportunity to tell the story of the Androscoggin River and the people who have lived on its banks. The Indigenous people who farmed, hunted, and fished along the river were called the Arasagunticook and were part of the Wabanaki nation that inhabited the region for thousands of years before colonization. They depended heavily on the resources of the river from the fertile floodplains for growing corn to the abundant fish. It was these same resources that brought early colonial settlers. These settlers dammed the river for its power, which, by the early 1800’s had severely limited the ability for the once abundant fisheries to migrate up and down the river. Later, pulp and paper mills released toxic waste into the river, and it became one of the most polluted waterways in the nation. It was this river that inspired Senator Ed Muskie, of Rumford Maine, to press the US Congress to adopt the Clean Water Act of 1972 which resulted in the much cleaner river you can visit today.

The official public opening of the property featured guided walks with BTLT’s Director of Stewardship Margaret Gerber and Land Steward George Jutras, with a special presentation from local Topsham historian Dana Cary. More guided stewardship walks are being planned for the spring, so keep an eye out for future announcements if you were unable to attend our grand opening! Can’t wait for a stewardship walk? Here’s the trail guide if you feel like exploring on your own.

With over a mile of trails both inland and along the riverfront, this preserve provides excellent opportunities for hiking, fishing, nature observation, and water access with a boat launch located just up the river from the property. We encourage you to visit our new property soon – more information including our trail map and directions to the property can be found here: https://www.btlt.org/conserved-lands/androscoggin-river/androscoggin-woods/

Honoring Indigenous People’s Day

This coming Monday, we celebrate the first people to call this land home. We recognize the struggles and tragedy they suffer, but also the fortitude they show. We honor their many generations of stewardship of the land, and their important contributions to our communities today.

Looking for ways to engage with, learn about, and respect Indigenous People’s Day?

Check out the list below…

  • Wabanaki REACH is showing Dawnland – a documentary about the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission – and having a discussion on Monday, which can be viewed here.
    • Oct 11th, 2021 at 6:00pm – 7:30pm – Space is limited and registration is required.

 

2020 Annual Meeting