The Wabanaki nation is comprised of Micmac, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot peoples. They have occupied Maine for 12,000 years. Today, Maine land conservation trusts are shaping practices around Indigenous leadership and knowledge. Ethnic needs and environmental preservation goals have come to an intersection.
French and English colonization introduced ideas of ownership through early settlers. Wabanaki experienced reduction of their ancestral lands and populations. Increasing conflict over divided land threatened Indigenous cultural freedoms and customs.
The Wabanaki population across Maine is around 8,700 people these days. They are still facing the effects of history to this day.
Peter Forbes and Ciona Ulrich formed the First Light Committee in 2017. Its purpose is to merge communication between the Wabanaki community and the 80 recognized land trusts in the state. The committee has worked at
expanding Indigenous access to land. It has also promoted opportunity for Indigenous leadership in land conservation. The committee takes on difficult, essential conversations and trust building to promote partnership with Indigenous representatives. Admitting and understanding the complex history of the tribes has advanced the long-term goals of land trusts.