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Home > Winners Page > 2011-12 Essays

2011-2012 Essays

Maeve Dow
8th Grade

 1st Place Winner

Shapleigh School

Native American Essay Contest

The Passamaquoddy tribe at Pleasant Point has many issues with their health, family, economics, and culture. To fix these, they have programs to eliminate these issues and they are working diligently to do away with them.

The social issues of the Passamaquoddy tribe are affecting everyone, whether it’s affecting someone personally, affecting their children or affecting a friend. The issues impact a range of ages. One issue that affects both adults and children is the 50% unemployment rate. The adults that are unemployed can’t buy the basics that they need to live. Then, children with unemployed parents go without what other children take for granted, such as food, heat and clothing.  “There are limited programs that address this issue,” says Donald Soctomah.  In a recent email he did say that at Pleasant Point, there are seasonal jobs such as raking blueberries, picking potatoes, fishing, and clamming.” It is good that there are seasonal jobs, but a once a year job could never provide for a family. The fact that there aren’t many programs that address this issue is a bit alarming to me.  A 50% unemployment rate is extremely eye-opening. Only half of the people in that tribe are earning a daily income, which means only half of the tribe is getting the daily necessities we need to live. I was very surprised that there were limited programs, but it could be related to the large amount of people in  poverty and their lack of resources.

Child abuse and welfare is another issue within the families of the tribe, but there are groups working to try to eliminate these problems. Their goal is to ensure that children are safe at home and to monitor what household children are put in if they are taken out of their house.

Children with mental health issues raises another problem. The children of the tribe have higher than average rates of behavior disorders, reading difficulties and serious mental health problems. To deal with this issue the School of Social Work created a project called the “We Remember Project.” What they will be looking at is the child and family’s well-being, the family’s satisfaction with the services and how services could be delivered more effectively, keeping the culture of the tribe in mind. This project is funded by the U.S. Department of  Health and Human Services. They are giving a $6.9 million grant to provide to this cause. Some mental health issues cannot be helped, but I think it is a good idea that there are programs on the reservation. It is important to educate people and intervene when the children are young. It is also encouraging that the U.S. Government is helping with this issue.

Alcoholism and substance abuse is also a problem for the people. The average life span for an adult is 46 years of age, which may be from the amount of alcohol and substances used on the reservation. On the reservation there are programs addressing this issue. This issue in my opinion is very important because people shouldn’t be living only 46 short years. 46 years really indicates that they have some serious health issues. 

One very important issue is retaining the tribal culture. With all the modern things on TV and in the news it is tough for the people to hold onto their Native American Culture. It is understandable that with all the social changes, it would be difficult to hold on to your culture that was developed centuries ago. Some things they are doing to address this issue is holding events throughout the year to practice these traditions. Also children in the schools are learning the language and the culture.

Whether its unemployment, child abuse, mental health issues, substance abuse or keeping a finger on the culture, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point has many social issues. I’m not saying that they are the only group of people with major social issues.  Almost every town or state has these problems, but I think the Passamaquoddy’s take these issues to a higher level, given that the life expectancy of tribal members are 46. Luckily, they are trying to solve their problems with many programs and support services.

“Maine Perspective Magazine.” N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Nov 2011. .

Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point, . “ Pleasant Point – Sipayik.” N.p., 2003. Web 2 Nov 2011.

Sotomah, Donald. “Help with Project?.” 10/24/11. e-mail


Taylor Kashmer
8th Grade

Shapleigh School

2nd Place

Maine Native American Essay

America has been through many wars as a country. Native Americans have always been involved in these wars in a high ratio, but have not always been given the appropriate respect and recognition that they deserve as war veterans.  Even after all of the things that the Americans and the U.S. Government have done to them, Native Americans are still proud of their country, feel a strong sense of loyalty and patriotism towards America, and are willing to defend their homeland whenever they are needed. America is now starting to realize the truth about their history as a country. They are beginning to realize that they need to recognize and thank Native Americans that fought for America in the wars that this country has been in. Among these Native Americans, Native Americans from Maine have made many contributions to wars that America has fought in.

Native Americans have not always been treated fairly by Americans and the U.S. Government. Although Native Americans were not recognized as full American citizens until 1924, they still fought for America in many wars before and after that. Native Americans have the highest amount of people that volunteered to go to war out of all of the minorities. During the time of the Vietnam War, about 90% of all Native Americans that enlisted actually volunteered to go to war. The Native American people think of war as a physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional experience. Many Native Americans want to go to war to test their strength, courage, and honor. Native Americans are just like any other kink of people. Some wanted to go to war because of their strong sense of patriotism, and some just wanted to go because they were curious about what it was like, and, as weird as it sounds, just for something to do. Jerald Lytle talks about how he chose to go to war because of his strong sense of patriotism. “I don’t think the American Indian has to go into the service to survive. I think they go because they want to. I think they go because they are super patriots. I mean, any pow-wow you go to, the American flag, after all the American government has done to Indian people, the American flag is still there. Always. You always see it there. I think any war the United States fights, there’ll be Indians in a high ratio involved in it, in the actual fighting,” Jerald Lytle. Other Native Americans wanted to go to war out of curiosity, or, as weird as it sounds, just for something to do. “I think that was a way of getting away from the reservation. For me, it was something to do. I didn’t wait to get drafter,” Myron Williams.

America is starting to realize the truth about their history and realize that Native Americans are a big part of our history and have made many large contributions to this country in wars and in many other aspects. In honor of this new realization, the governor of Maine from January 8, 2003 to January 5, 2011, Governor John Baldacci, signed a bill proclaiming that June 21st of each year be Native American Veterans Day in Maine. The Proclamation of Native American Veterans Day in Maine states many valid points and reasoning on why there should be Native American Veterans Day in Maine. It talks about contributions that Native Americans from Maine made to many wars that America has fought in. “An estimated 30,000 Native Americans enlisted in the Military during World War 2, including at least 156 Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indians, as well as Maliseet and Micmac Indians living in Maine,” said in the Proclamation of Native American Veterans Day in Maine.

In the proclamation of Native American Veterans Day in Maine, a very valid point is made about both Maine Native Americans and all Native Americans. “Throughout the history of the United States, Native Americans have served their country to defend rights that they were not always afforded,” said in the Proclamation of Native American Veterans Day in Maine.  American citizens have not always been told the truth about their past, but with their new education of the past, Native American Veterans will get the respect and recognition that they have always deserved. America will thank Native Americans for all that they have done for this country, not only in wars, but in the overall development of America.


Work Cited
“Native American Vietnam Vets.”  Native American History., March 2005. Web. 21 Oct 2011.

“Native American Vietnam Veterans.” Red Eye Video. Red Eye Video, n.d. Web. 26 Oct 2011. <>