This land and water we inhabit is Passamaquoddy territory. The Passamaquoddy are one of four nations (in addition to the Maliseet, Micmac, and Penobscot Nations) that comprise the Wabanaki (or ‘People of the Dawn’). Greenhorns is headquartered in Washington County, where there are two Passamaquoddy reservations - one at Sipayik and one at Motahkokmikuk. For thousands of years, the Wabanaki have managed, fished, farmed, and protected the land and waters of Downeast Maine.
- “Now the tribe is recognizing the importance of the marine resources, and the Passamaquoddy Joint Tribal Council has formed a fisheries advisory committee made up of tribal councilors and marine resource users to recommend a management plan. The committee has compiled historic evidence and cataloged the resources that the tribe has a right to harvest. The joint council has enacted a framework adjustment procedure for replacing the current fisheries ordinance with a comprehensive fisheries plan. The committee is now developing specific rules for the different fisheries, which will need to be approved by the joint council. Hearings were held in January at Pleasant Point and Indian Township for reviewing those rules.” (Quoddy Tides 2012)
- “Under the 1998 Passamaquoddy fishing law, members of the tribe are exempted from state licensing when taking marine resources, but they are subject to the state’s marine resource laws and enforcement.” (Quoddy Tides 2013)
- “Section 3.1 Tribal commercial fishing license. A commercial fishing license issued by the Passamaquoddy Tribe may authorize a resident member of the Tribe to engage in any one or more of the following activities, without a state license to engage in those activities under the provisions of Maine law listed: […] harvest, possess, ship, transport and sell seaweed 12 MRSA § 6803”
Integral to the Passamaquoddy Nation is a bond with the land, the forests, the rivers, lakes, and the ocean. The ability of the Passamaquoddy People to access food from their natural surroundings can be traced back thousands of years. Even their Tribal name of “Peskotomuhkat” is associated with the gathering of food from nature as it means “those of the place where pollock are plentiful.”
Vera Francis explains that the concept of food was “not just about having enough, but also about sustaining our very being, our cultural lifeways.” She explained the idea of how traditional knowledge will enable Tribal members to have a sense of vibrancy and the ability to enjoy longevity.
Maine state fisheries management plans are usually based on a free-market system and do not give enough consideration to habitat issues and sustainable harvest levels. “The Passamaquoddy fisheries plan aims to restore habitat, harvest seafood responsibly, and broaden fisheries access; it includes specific management plans for many species. Scallops, lobster, groundfish, alewives, and the lucrative elver fishery all play a role in the future health of a fishing community thousands of years older than the state. ‘Our cultural norms are codified in our plan,’ said Moore. ‘We don’t exploit resources; we utilize them.’”