In June of 2020 the tribes in Maine (Aroostook Band of Micmac, Houlton Band of Maliseet, Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation) formed the Wabanaki Alliance. The Wabanaki Alliance was formed to educate people of Maine about the need for securing sovereignty of the tribes in Maine.
The Wabanakis of Maine and the Maritimes: A Resource By and About Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Micmac and Abenaki Indians
The Wabanakis of Maine... is organized into four parts: historical overview, lesson plans, readings, and fact sheets. It contains many excellent line drawings and photographs. Also included are a bibliography and a list of resources that includes native governments, organizations, museums, and other institutions, as well as books and audio visual materials. This resource was created with support from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). The newer version of the text with clearer photos is available for download. For more information about check out the related ERIC site.
AFSC has also compiled a folder of resources to support the teaching of Wabanaki History, Culture, and Contemporary Issues.
The Abbe Museum
As a leader in the state for Wabanaki education, the Abbe Museum offers many resources for teachers. They offer a wide range of classroom and reference material for use by educators, available for download on their Educator Hub. The Educator Hub includes lesson plans, materials, and other resources that support the teaching of Maine Native Americans. Be sure to check out their five part curriculum.
Maine Memory Network
The Maine Memory Network is a digital museum that provides access to historical items from over 180 museums, historical societies, libraries, and other organizations from every corner of Maine. Step inside to see rare photographs, documents, and artifacts. Check out their Educators page and classroom resources page or go to the Maine Memory Network website and type the following phrases in the search box: Abenaki Indian, Maine Indian, Maliseet Indian, Micmac Indian, Passamaquoddy Indian, or Penobscot Indian.
Other key resources to check out from the Maine Historical Society include:
- Wabanaki Heritage Stories
- Holding Up The Sky online exhibit
- Audio recordings of John Bear Mitchell
- As part of a professional development the following were created:
Finding Katahdin Online: Primary Sources
Finding Katahdin Online complements Finding Katahdin: An Exploration of Maine's Past, a comprehensive Maine Studies text book developed and published by the University of Maine Press for Grade 7-12 teachers and students.
The Hudson Museum at the University of Maine has a variety of exhibits (including online exhibits), collections, curriculum resources, and a Youtube channel (in which native artists document their artistic traditions) that support the teaching of Maine Native Americans.
The Wabanaki Collection connects postsecondary educators, grade school teachers, and the general public with a variety of resources that support enhanced relationships between all the peoples of Eastern Canada and Northeastern United States. The project is named for the first peoples of this territory—Wabanaki or People of the Dawn—which include Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik, Abenaki, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy. All content found in this collection will relate to Wabanaki worldviews, including history, culture, language and education.
Penobscot Nation Curriculum
The Penobscot Nation Cultural and Historic Preservation Department, along with select tribal members, and knowledgeable Maine teachers worked collaboratively to design this culturally appropriate, teacher-friendly curriculum. They worked to make sure it met the requirements of the Maine Native American Studies Law (Maine State Law 2001 Chapter 403, An Act to Require Teaching of Maine Native American History and Culture in Maine's Schools--or LD 291, as it is often referred to.)
Maliseet-Passamaquoddy Language Resources
The Maliseet and Passamaquoddy people were closely related neighbors who shared a common language, but though the French referred to both tribes collectively as Etchemins, they always considered themselves politically independent. The tribes of the east coast were confusing to Europeans, who couldn't understand why dozens of small groups of Native Americans lived together yet claimed to be separate nations. What they didn't realize was that these groups had not always been so small. European diseases decimated the Indian populations--the Passamaquoddy were 20,000 strong before European contact and no more than 4000 afterwards.
The Maine Folklife Center – Maliseet and Passamaquoddy Tales
The Maine Folklife Center focuses on bringing the resources and skills of oral history and folklife research to school teachers and students. This link highlights a Maliseet tale.
Mi'kmaq Curriculum from Nova Scotia: Teaching about the Mi'kmaq
The curriculum and supporting resources developed by a distinguished group of Mi’kmaw educators is now available to teachers and the general public online. The resource was designed for anyone who teaches Mi’kmaw history, culture and knowledge. Through the stories and knowledge of Mi’kmaw Elders, educators, and other experts, this volume will share content and teaching strategies for three subject areas for grades primary to grade nine.
Dawnland is a production by Maine-Wabanaki REACH and Maine Native Americans. The award-winning film is about Maine Native Americans and would be an excellent resource when instructing Maine students on the history and contemporary situation of Maine's native people. Below is a description from their website:
"In Maine, a historic investigation—the first government-sanctioned truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) in the United States—begins a bold journey. For over two years, Native and non-Native commissioners travel across Maine. They gather testimony and bear witness to the devastating impact of the state’s child welfare practices on families in Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribal communities. Collectively, these tribes make up the Wabanaki people
The feature-length documentary DAWNLAND follows the TRC to contemporary Wabanaki communities to witness intimate, sacred moments of truth-telling and healing. With exclusive access to this groundbreaking process and never-before-seen footage, the film reveals the untold narrative of Indigenous child removal in the United States."
HERE is a teacher's guide to Dawnland.
YouTube Video on Maine Indian Land Claims
A ten minute documentary on the Maine Indian Land Claims Case, written, filmed, narrated and edited by Shireen Hinckley, a Maine high school student. The interviews were conducted in August of 2007. The film has since won several awards.
This Canadian website helps individuals picture the North American continent without current political borders, but is instead based on the borders of Native American languages and traditional territories. The website does not claim to be definitive, but is a good and ever-evolving resource for teaching Maine Native studies.
The Equinox Petroglyph Project: Interpretations by Women and Children
In October of 2006, one of the most sacred and well-documented sites of ancient petroglyphs on the eastern seaboard of the United States was returned to its original peoples, the Passamaquoddy Tribe. The site is known as “Picture Rocks” and lies on the Machias Bay in “Downeast” Maine. The rock carvings and peckings date as far back as 3,000 to 5,000 years and its most ancient peckings may be as old as 10,000 years. Believed to be made by Shamans, the petroglyphs are positioned such that they are the most visible at the Fall or Spring Equinox and thus the name of the Exhibition, The Equinox Petroglyph Project: Interpretations.
The Equinox Petroglyph Project is an effort to document and interpret the ‘Picture Rocks’ from the female point of view and that of the Passamaquoddy youth through visual, auditory, and tactile works of art.
The Algonquin Legends of New England or, Myths and Folk Lore of the Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Tribes
By Charles G. Leland, 1884
Wabanaki: A New Dawn (DVD)
The Wabanaki, the People of the Dawn Land, have lived in what is now Maine and Maritime Canada for more than 11,000 years. It was not until the early 1600s that Europeans came to live in the territory inhabited by an estimated 32,000 Wabanaki. This contact was disastrous. "Wabanaki: A New Dawn" shows the quest for cultural survival by today's Wabanaki... the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot People. The voices in the video offer hope that the Wabanaki will use their cultural and spiritual inheritance to survive and thrive in the third millennium. Wabanaki: A New Dawn was produced in 1995 and is presented by the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission.
The Native American people of Maine are invisible. To most whites they do not exist, and many who do know of the Indians presence are ignorant of both their history and their present circumstances. This video examines some of the history of the relations between the white and Indian communities in Maine. Through individual voices, it looks at underlying reasons for the racism so deeply imbedded in white American culture and how that racism continues to shape Native American reality today. It then asks how we can begin to change our own racism and confront the invisible racism that underlies much of white American society today. Available from Northeast Historic Film at 1-800-639-1636.
Boston Children's Museum - Native Voices: New England Tribal Families Resources
Native Voices: New England Tribal Families was an exhibit project begun in 2010 at Boston Children’s Museum. The goals of the exhibit are to dispel stereotypes and correct misinformation; to develop appreciation for the ways in which Indigenous people have sustained, transmitted, and adapted their cultural traditions; to build awareness of the vitality and diversity of tribal nations in the Northeast region; and to inspire appreciation and the desire to learn more about native traditions among Native and non-Native visitors. The exhibit and programs were developed in partnership with all of the tribes represented. You can check out the Native Voice exhibit tour in this video.
First published in 1991, Rethinking Columbus has changed the way schools teach about the "discovery of America." This greatly expanded 2nd edition has more than 100 pages of new material, including handouts to conduct a classroom "Trial of Columbus" and other activities.
A retrospective on the 1980 Maine Indians Land Claims Settlemen, presented by Jill E. Tompkins, Penobscot Tribal Member and Director of the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado Law School. This video is in Flash format for online viewing. DVDs of Professor Tompkins' presentation are available from Maine DOE.
Oyate is a Native organization working to see that our lives and histories are portrayed with honesty and integrity, and that all people know that our stories belong to us. For Indian children growing up in the 21st century, it is as important as ever for them to know who they are and learn about the histories that they come from. For all children, it is time to know and acknowledge the truths of history. Only then will they come to have the understanding and respect for each other that now, more than ever, will be necessary for life to continue.
Their work includes critical evaluation of books and curricula with Indian themes, conducting workshops on “Teaching Respect for Native Peoples,” administration of a small resource center and reference library; and distribution of literature and learning materials for children, youth, and their teachers. They try to emphasize in our inventory the lifting up of writing and illustration by Native people from across North America.
Indigenous Peoples' Day in Maine
October 14, 2019 was Maine’s first Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Governor Janet Mills signed LD 179, a bill that officially ends the observation of Columbus Day. Maine is part of a growing national movement that is rethinking how we teach and celebrate our country’s history.
Why did the holiday need to change? Students (and adults!) across the state will be asking plenty of questions this fall, so The Maine State Museum has compiled some educational resources to help guide discussions in and out of the classroom. Check out their website of resources.
Check out these additional resources:
Teaching Tolerance: The Moment Indigenous Peoples' Day - Teaching Tolerance provides a few different resources to help educators “celebrate the histories of Indigenous peoples and Native nations” for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. These resources include an article inviting contemporary American Indian peoples into the classroom, a lesson on why we still celebrate Columbus Day, and a text in which “an educator details the struggle of coming to terms with the bloody heritage she shares with Columbus and her pride in remembering, embracing and living out her cultural history.” 2019 Edition and 2020 Edition
Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day? - The Anti-Defamation League has put together a high school lesson plan teaching students about Columbus Day and the reasons why some states and cities have renamed it Indigenous Peoples’ Day. From this plan, students will not only learn the necessary information about this topic, but they will also get the chance to form their own opinions on whether they believe Columbus Day should be changed to Indigenous Peoples’ Day on a federal level.
PBS Learning Media - Elementary Video - PBS offers a two-minute video on Indigenous Peoples’ Day which explains that International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is on August 9th and was created by the United Nations in 1994. The narrator explains other general information related to this day, including the fact that in the United States, some Americans celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of or in place of Columbus Day. This brief video may serve as a good introduction to this topic!
Teaching Channel: Un-Columbus Day - This Teaching Channel blog has some tips and resources on how to reframe how you teach about Christopher Columbus on Indigenous Day.
Channel One - Lesson Plan - Many people in America honor the contributions of Christopher Columbus on Columbus Day. However, a growing movement seeks to change the holiday to Indigenous People’s Day, in recognition of Native Americans and the negative impacts of Columbus’ discovery of the New World. Channel One News shares the story of how Seattle, Wash., renamed Columbus Day to better honor its Native American heritage.
History.com: Goodbye, Columbus. Hello, Indigenous Peoples’ Day - Since 1991, dozens of cities, several universities, and a growing number of states have adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a holiday that celebrates the history and contributions of Native Americans. Not by coincidence, the occasion usually falls on Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, or replaces the holiday entirely. As of 2020, the holiday is observed by the states of Minnesota, Alaska, Maine, Louisiana, Oregon, New Mexico, Nevada and Vermont, as well as South Dakota, which celebrates Native Americans’ Day, and Hawaii, which celebrates Discoverers' Day. Why replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day? Read the article to find out more.
Teaching for Change - Classroom Resources - On September 8, 2018 the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), Teaching for Change, and D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice organized an Indigenous People’s Curriculum Day and Teach-In that brought together more than 100 educators from the D.C. area (and a few from across the country) to share curriculum ideas and strategies for how to teach students about Indigenous People’s history and life today. Check out the website for more information and resources.