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Indigenous Reflections on the Royal River

On the brisk sunny afternoon of May 5th, YCARE and RRCT hosted a group of paddlers on the Royal River. While navigating a two mile stretch of the river from Wescustogo Park to Old Town House Park, participants enjoyed and honored Mother Earth’s water gift, and the gifts of Spring (“Siqon”). Among the group were members of the inherently sovereign nations of the Maliseet, Penobscot and the Passamaquoddy who currently live in Yarmouth. Additionally, staff from the Wild Seed Project joined and shared their expertise on the plants of the river. A few neighbors of Wescustogo Park and friends from the North Yarmouth Historical Society also paddled along.

YCARE Steering Committee member, Ron, launched the day with a greeting in the language of his maternal ancestors which brought the indigenous-led perspective to this place we today call Yarmouth. It put the gathering

into personal, present and historical context and made clear the work to be done together going forward.

Please take a deep refreshing breath, read Ron’s words below, and then join the YCARE Restorative History Project which spotlights the people and stories that have been excluded from our local narrative.

Tan kahk psi-te-wen, naga, woli sepawiw. Ntliwis Ron. Wolasweltom kisi papecihmitit weci wolasihkol ciw pemkiskak. Nwik nil Yarmouth. Skijin nil wolastoqewi, naga polaqs. Ntotoli-kehkimks wolastoqewi latewewakon, lintuwakonal, naga eliyimok.

Hello everyone, and good morning. My name is Ron. I’m happy to greet you today in the language of my maternal ancestors. I live in Yarmouth. I am of Maliseet and Polish roots. I am a learner of the language, music, and culture of my Wolastoqewi or Maliseet ancestors.

As we get underway this morning, how about a brief pause to think about, and connect to, the land we are on right now. Maybe imagining how this spot appeared “pihce” (a long time ago). We might wonder: How did the environment look? What vegetation, winged, 2-legged and 4-leggeds were here, alongside the original people? What were the smells, the sounds, AND… how did the shorelines of this river appear?

I ask that we remember to honor, respect, and give thanks, firstly, for the original, and still current Wabanaki stewards of this territory, known as The Dawnland, or, The Ckuwaponahk, or, the land where the sun first looks our way. And, today, also, much gratitude for RRCT’s work, under Alan’s guidance, to preserve the gift that is here, and in our extended neighborhood.

As most of us here know, Indigenous history was intentionally hidden from all of us. With much curiosity and effort, discoveries are made, but not without lots of digging. Our restorative history group—that’s what we call ourselves so far--has been digging, and enjoying the many rabbit holes we easily find ourselves in, exploring pre-colonial, but also current day happenings in this un-ceded territory now called Maine.

As we share our learning and awareness amongst ourselves, an idea, a goal, comes to us… the need to sit together with others with an invitation to join our journey of discovery, to learn with us, as we consider the importance of all people here becoming better neighbors, helping all Earth dwellers recognize the peaceful and rich destiny that is possible here.

A significant piece of a worldview for all of us to consider, is remembering to live with the land, and not on it, treading lightly, with humility, and respecting the natural balance. From the People of the Dawn we can learn reverence for these lands and for their spiritual connection to Mother Earth and all her beings.

So, after much anticipation, we find ourselves on the banks of this river, anticipating, and hoping, perhaps, for some kind of a connection with the nearby flowing water.

As some know, and others are invited to consider, that water, and rivers are alive. They are beings, spiritual beings…. another connected piece of the natural world to live in balance with. Do you see water as a living being? With rights? And if so, might that change the way you treat the Water in your life? How about looking at water protection as an act of love for future generations.

I have a quote to share, and it’s not my own. “Understanding and respecting water as a living entity, and ancestral being, teaches us interconnectedness and about our revered relationship with the feminine spirit, symbolic of our mother. As unborn children in our mother’s womb, we are nested within the water, therefore, our position to water starts at the beginning of our lives. We must act in relation and in obligation to water.”

Consider these thoughts as you create an experience for yourself on the Wescustogo today.

Kci kikuwosson naga kihci-niweskumon, komac woliwon eci-wolokiskahk. Npehqiyatomonen psiw kil kisituwon. Our great Mother and our great Spirit, thank you for such a beautiful day. We honor all you created.


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