Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Last year, Maine formally replaced Columbus Day with an acknowledgment of the people who long lived in this part of the world—Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Katie Stack’s History of Indigenous Peoples of America gave an all school assembly on Monday to give some context to the day.
Students highlighted the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, acknowledging indigenous peoples and their lands. As part of their assembly, they presented a formal land acknowledgment which they will next present to the Gould Academy Board of Trustees.
Gould Academy, they informed us, sits on the land of the Abenaki people and the Wabanaki Confederacy and shared a map of the Northeast indicating where native peoples historically lived. You can visit the site yourself to see the indigenous groups that live or lived in any part of the globe.
One of the most important reasons to mark the day is to recognize that indigenous people continue to face discrimination, primarily through government and federal policies that limit their access to land resources and health care.
“The great challenge in all of this is how we reconcile love for our country and love for our heritage and traditions with the ugly truth behind how we got here and what it took to create this society.”
TAO SMITH ’90
Head of School
This evening, 11th and 12th graders will watch two films: Dawnland and Dear Georgina. Dawnland examines the decades-long practice of removing Native American children from their homes to save them from being Indian. Maine organized the first official “truth and reconciliation commission” in the United States begins to begin a historic investigation that grapples with difficult truths, redefines reconciliation, and charts a new course for state and tribal relations. Dear Georgina follows a Passamaquoddy elder as she tries to fill in the blurry outlines of her identity. Now a grandmother, Georgina is still attempting to re-integrate herself into the community she barely knew.
“I took a course in college,” said Head of School Tao Smith at the close of the assembly, “called Lies My Teachers Taught. The version of history we learned was largely whitewashed—that’s a literal term, whitewashed. It was done to celebrate the cultural dominance of European settlers and the institutions and societal norms that they created.
“The great challenge in all of this,” he said, “is how we reconcile love for our country and love for our heritage and traditions with the ugly truth behind how we got here and what it took to create this society. It’s an important conversation to have. In order to truly understand someone, you need to know their story. Education and awareness are always the first steps.”