A Shared Pursuit: Protecting Maine Land and Supporting Indigenous Freedom

     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

Allied Conservations of the First Light Conservation Delegation Committee.

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.

Pulitzer Photos Capture the Making of History

     The perfect moment to capture an image does not wait. Photojournalists must seize it when it is there. Brave photojournalists are ready to snap an image to capture history in the making. 

     In the film “A Glimpse of Life–The Pulitzer Photographs,” photojournalists talk about their experiences taking Pulitzer winning photos. To win a Pulitzer, a photo does not have to be perfect. It has to capture iconic moments. It has to tell a story. A picture is worth a thousand words. The audience must be able to read it. A Pulitzer photo is one that makes the audience feel something. 

     Joe Rosenthal took Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima in 1945. It is a photograph of six U.S. Marines raising a flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Six men in uniforms work together to lift the heavy flag. “It’s a front seat to history,” John White, a Pulitzer Prize recipient, said about being a photojournalist. Raising a flag is an iconic symbol during a war. This photo is a historic moment caught that will last forever. Rosenthal’s image became one of the most iconic images worldwide. Many thought it to be a symbol of American resilience. It shows how a photo can produce feelings of pride. 

The Pressures We Experience

   People feel pressure for many different reasons throughout their lives. For example: to do well in school, to create the best painting, to pick the best fitting job. But for young people, one of the most stressful times can be during their senior year of high school. People are continually asking, “What college did you apply/get into?” “What major did you choose?” “Are you staying on campus or off campus?” “How many scholarships were you awarded?” Daisy Grant is currently a high school senior who has already decided which college she is going to attend. Audree Burtt is a senior in high school who has decided to become a travel certified nursing assistant after graduating. 

      Daisy is 18. She will be attending the University of Maine Farmington in the fall. She has a very close relationship with her family. But she is ready to take the next step in her life, which is college. Daisy explained what pressures affected her during senior year. “Probably the push for applying and filling out the different applications for colleges, and all the forms that go along with it. Such as FAFSA, writing essays and asking for recommendation letters.”  Sometimes parents will put a lot of pressure on their children during senior year. But Daisy’s parents had a different view. “There wasn’t a lot of pressure with what school I chose, as long as I got everything submitted on time and got into a good college.” 

The Power of a Photograph

      What makes a photo Pulitzer Prize winning? The film “A Glimpse Of Life: The Pulitzer Photographs” seeks to answer this question. What better way to find an answer than to ask winners of the prestigious award? In the words of William Snyder, a multi-time winner, “It’s not a photography contest. It’s about telling some of the biggest stories of the year.” 

     Pulitzer award winning photos show moments that stay with people. “If it makes you laugh. If it makes you cry. It’s a good photo. You look at a film and you see it and it’s over and it goes on the shelf. But a still picture is in front of you all the time….The most powerful weapon that we have in the world is a still photograph,” Eddie Adams, another award winner, said in the film. Photos that effectively use the medium,  images that are powerful win Pulitzers.

     In 1943, Nathaniel Fein photographed baseball player Babe Ruth taking a final bow to a packed stadium. Teammates stand to the side with their caps over their hearts. This photo shows an important cultural event that was an important story. Babe Ruth is considered one of the best baseball players in history. This was his last moment on the field as a professional baseball player. The picture shows the respect that people had for Ruth. This is also an image that The New York Times named “one of the best known images of perhaps the greatest baseball player who ever lived.” 

     Many people would know Eddie Adams’ 1968 iconic photo. It showed the moment when a Vietnamese police chief assassinated a Viet Cong prisoner. This image demonstrates the power of photography in multiple ways. It showed the camera’s power to immortalize moments and is also credited with being the spark that changed public opinion on the Vietnam War. The Babe Ruth photo showed humanity at its best, gathered together to celebrate someone’s achievements. This image shows humanity at its worst. 

     In 1976, Stanly Forman went to photograph what he expected to be a standard ladder rescue. That quickly changed when the balcony and fire escape of the building collapsed.  His award-winning picture shows a woman and a toddler falling through the sky. A metal ladder and scaffolding are in pieces left of center. This photo shows what was an important story for the area. It’s an image of the in-the-moment impact of a fire in Boston. It shows a tragedy that a photo can best convey, due to its split second nature. 

     Michel duCille and Carol Guzy won for their photos showing the impacts of the 1986 Colombia mudslide. One particular image shows a young girl submerged in water up to her head. Two others are caught in frame, one with a rope and the other gripping on the girl’s arm to help her out. This is an image that shows the power of nature but also the will of humanity to help one another in times of need. It is powerful for its duality. 

     The 1990s was a time of contrast for photojournalist William Snyder. He won the Pulitzer for his work at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, showing gold medalist Jackie Joyner Kersee take a victory lap. In 1991, he photographed the deplorable conditions of a Romanian orphanage. One of his photos showed a visibly malnourished baby in a crib. To the crib’s left is a baby doll. When speaking of his experience taking these pictures, he said that these orphanages were known as “homes for irrecoverables.” He called them “warehouses for children.” One image is a celebration of human accomplishment and sharing the joy that comes with it. The other brings awareness to injustices. Each is powerful in different ways. 

     Through seeing what makes a picture Pulitzer Prize winning, the power of photojournalism comes through as well. Photojournalism is more than pictures to accompany text of a news story or pictures that look cool. The images themselves tell a story and they show humanity in all of its forms. 

Walking Trails in Presque Isle

    Are you bored? Feel like there’s nothing to do? Well, spring has sprung and the snow is melting. One excellent thing to do would be to grab a group of friends, or go alone, and find a walking trail. One thing about Presque Isle that is marveled by many and draws the attention of out-of-staters is its natural beauty. Presque Isle is teeming with beautiful woods, mountains and lakes just waiting to be explored. Even the UMPI campus has nature trails to offer.

Here lies a green barn adjacent to the train tracks behind UMPI.

     According to one student, Megan Waceken, “Having places we can go outside right by the school is so important to me. There is so much room to explore.” Another UMPI student, Signey Johnston, said, “I never really did much around campus until my friends brought me to the train tracks behind school. It’s so cool back there! Ever since then I have been going back, with them and by myself, to be out in nature.” The walking trails really have cemented the bonds between UMPI and its students.

     Another great reason to go outside and go explore the nature of Presque Isle is the blatant fact that finals are coming! We all know how stressful these things can be. It is wonderful to allow yourself a break and spend time in the great outdoors, even for just an hour or so. As Megan Waceken said, “We see so much and it’s a great break from school work.” 

     Having the ability to step out of your dorm room and immediately be surrounded by the beauty of nature is something that many campuses around the United States cannot offer. Take advantage of where you live and explore!

Forever Chemicals are Contaminating Maine Land

     Maine farmland calls to mind hoop houses, tall grain crops and cows grazing peacefully out to pasture. But something is happening beneath the surface. Farmers are facing soil and water contamination from Polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAs used in manufacturing. What are these chemicals and where did they come from?

Dairy cows grazing on pasture at Springside Farms in New Vineyard, Maine.

     PFAs are a family of synthetic chemicals that do not break down in the environment. Because they are water, stain and grease resistant, they are used in the production of household products–from the Teflon coating on cookware, to textiles, furniture and carpeting. 

     The state of Maine endorsed farmers’ spreading tainted sludge from wastewater facilities as fertilizer in the 1980s. Farmers felt it was a civic duty. Today, farmers witness the fallout with heavy emotion. 

     Randall Bates is a dairy farmer at Springside Farms in New Vineyard, Maine. His family has occupied this property for over a century. Two maple trees guard the white clapboard farmhouse. On a crisp, peaceful March morning, he strolled his 400-acre organic farm past the bright red barn. Part of this barn doubles as a museum. Black and white photographs line the walls. His grandmother’s original cream separator stands by the door. “It is unfortunate that these people have done nothing wrong. They were told that spreading sludge was safe. Now they are being told that their property and livelihoods are worthless,” he said. 

How Two Young Journalists Saved Democracy

    In 1976, the film “All the President’s Men” was released. It told the story of two Washington Post journalists who set out to uncover the truth about the Watergate affair. Journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward rapidly uncover a massive cover-up when no one they approach will disclose any information. Bernstein and Woodward eventually end up on a chase in search of a frightening truth. While seemingly grasping at straws, they never give up on their investigation to find the truth.

     They are finally able to publish the first story because of their perseverance. The story accuses high-ranking officials close to the president of engaging in criminal activity. As a result, the two reporters find themselves between a rock and a hard place. “Not that there’s a lot riding on this. Only the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press and maybe the future of our democracy,” Ben Bradlee, executive editor of the Washington Post, said.  That became one of the most famous–if not the most famous—line from the movie. It shows us just how truly significant this investigation was. If it went wrong, the entire Constitution could’ve been uprooted.

     Almost every government department was involved in the cover-up. They tried to prevent the Washington Post from publishing their articles. If they had succeeded, it would have made a completely different narrative for our country’s views on freedom of speech and freedom of press. 

     Bernstein, Woodward and Bradlee risked their lives by going out and getting the story. Watergate would not have been a national scandal if they hadn’t done so. They continued to carry the news and to write and publish their stories that led all the way to the president. Without that, the rule of freedom of the press would have been broken.  This would have torn down one of America’s founding freedoms in the process.

     The plot of “All The President’s Men” is unique. The entire film revolves around the search for any kind of information. Although Woodward and Bernstein are aware that there is some kind of scandal going on, they find it difficult to craft a plausible story with credible witnesses. When they eventually get their hands on the desired information, things only become worse. 

     But they persevere and through courage and hard work, they uncover one of the most serious challenges to U.S. democracy of the 20th century.  That work offers lessons that continue to shine through time.

The Impact of Tragedy

How Capturing a Tragic Moment in Time Becomes Timeless

     The Pulitzer Prize awards a wide number of journalism categories. Perhaps the most famous  would be those for photography. Images resonate more than words. Tragic images even more so. People remember where they were at these moments. Photography bears witness to those moments, including the tragic incidents in each of the following decades.

     1940s: Perhaps no athlete in history has been as polarizing to American culture as Babe Ruth. More than Brady, Gretzky or Jordan. Babe Ruth defined the sport of baseball. He began as a member of the Boston Red Sox. But we mostly remember him as a New York Yankee. 

     Nate Fein captured this Pulitzer-winning photo. It shows the moment when Babe Ruth returned to Yankee Stadium for the final time. The stadium would go on to be known as “The House That Ruth Built.”  He had been retired for 13 seasons. Now his health was failing. The Yankees decided to honor him one more time by retiring his number. This gave the fans one last look at the Sultan of Swat. This is one of the more tragic and heart wrenching photos in the history of sports. Ruth would die just two months later. 

Bangladesh: History, Culture and Independence

     During University Day, UMPI student Shafil Turzo presented Bangladesh War of Independence. Those who attended learned about the culture and traditions of Bangladesh, located in south Asia. 

Shafil Presenting the history of Bangladesh.

     Bangladesh values many things, one of which being the importance of family. “In rural areas, extended family are living together. Family is the basic structure of tradition in Bangladesh.” 

     Shafil’s own grandfather was a freedom fighter. The people of Bangladesh fought for independence from the British until it was received in 1947. “We had to live under Great Britain for almost 190 years as a colonial state,” Shafil said. Even after gaining freedom apart from being a colonial state, Bangladesh experienced discrimination from Pakistan for almost 25 years. “At last, the Pakistan army surrendered in 1971,” Shafil said. Independence was then declared in Bangladesh.

     “The new nation of Bangladesh was born 50 years ago,” Shafil said. It is a tradition to celebrate a holiday called Pahela Baishakh. This holiday is similar to the New Year holiday in the United States. “Every year on April 14th is Pahela Baishakh /New Year. The people of Bangladesh celebrate with great joy,” Shafil said. Holidays are not taken lightly. Thousands of people gather in the streets to celebrate the land they love and its independence. 

     The flag of Bangladesh represents the land and the history. “The green in the flag represents the forest in our country. The red represents the blood shed in the fight for independence,” Shafil said. The circle in the middle represents the rising of Bangladesh, a shape similar to the sun, which also rises. 

     There are many other beautiful cultures, meanings and tradition in Bangladesh. Those who are lucky enough to experience the beauty of Bangladesh should enrich themselves in this culture and history in the same way as Shafil enriched those who came to his presentation.

Black Student Union Presents at University Day

     Kajuan Minter, mentored by Shirley Rush, presented to a captivated audience on University Day 2022. Flying solo, Minter spoke on behalf of UMPI’s Black Student Union (BSU). “The first ever BSU was founded in 1966 at San Francisco State University,” he said, opening his presentation. “After that, they were started on other campuses across the nation.” The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s BSU started in 2017. Former UMPI student, Riana Teixeria, was instrumental in the establishment of a BSU on UMPI’s campus. “She was an amazing, driven and passionate woman,” Minter said of his former BSU President. “Without her, I don’t think BSU would exist (at UMPI) because she was so outspoken. She really pushed for a lot of things culture-wise for Black people here. She was the start of that, her and Miss Shirley. We just try to keep it going for them.”

For more information about how to join BSU, contact Kajuan (KJ) Minter at kajuan.minter@maine.edu.

     BSU’s mission is to create a safe place for Black students on campus. “A lot of us are coming from different environments and situations,” Minter said. “I’m from Maryland and being here is a whole culture change. I’m from the city, I’m used to hearing sirens.” Minter says the differences in culture for him and other members of the BSU can create a sense of discomfort and not belonging. “There’re not many people like us,” he said. “You don’t know who to relate to. You don’t know who to go to. You don’t know your resources. It’s like a complete fresh start. You got to learn people and people got to learn you.”

     Now the president of the BSU himself, Minter spoke of the support that BSU provides students who might struggle with these concepts. “BSU kind of gives that safe place,” he said. “You know, ‘Me and you are from the same area.’ We can relate to each other. We understand.” 

     BSU also strives to promote a sense of belonging for Black students. “Being from the city, being comfortable,” he said. “You feel like you belong there because you see people of your color. Out here, it’s different.” He believes that not only does BSU allow students to feel as if their voices are heard, but it creates a supportive environment. “Your voice is important,” he said. “And people here will listen to it. You just have to use it. When I joined BSU, I learned that.”