The Passamaquoddy: A People Reborn Short Documentary

The Passamaquoddy: A People Reborn Short Documentary

The Passamaquoddy


In the early 1960s the Passamaquoddy tribe was at an all time low, but they were about to begin a two decade battle with the State of Maine which would forever change themselves, their relationship between the United States Government, and all Native American tribes.



Its conclusion would bring a new wealth, and a new pride to the native peoples of Maine.


But with it came unexpected troubles and dissension which struck to the heart of what it means to be Indian.


Preceding these events, in the late 18th century, Congress created the Nonintercourse Act, declaring that any transfer of land from Indians to non-Indians had to be approved by Congress.


Between 1794 and 1833, title to most of the land of the Passamaquoddy was transferred o the state of Maine and individuals. Those transfers, encompassing two-thirds of the state of Maine, were never approved by the U.S. Congress, and were therefore illegitimate.


This was the foundation for the Maine Indian Land Claims Case of 1980. 


Before the Claims settlement, the conditions on the Maine reservations were poor. The houses were small and wooden, with little to no insulation, leaky roofs, and bare floors.


In the sixties, 85% of the houses had no toilets or plumbing.


NEWS ANCHOR

The average annual family income is $3000, well below the national poverty level. Most members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe live on this 100 acre reservation on the Northeast coast of Maine. Here, an unemployment rate of 50% is a sign that things are getting better.


Intolerance for the tribal people and their culture was common in many areas of Maine, and over time, they grew used to the treatment. Discrimination was very regular. As a matter of fact it happened so regularly that we didn't even know that it was discrimination. One of the things about an oppressed people is they get so used to it they think it's normal. And you act a certain way accordingly, and you try to survive by saying that's the way it is.


So there was all of this going on, and the saddest part is that we went along with it because  we thought it was normal and the other thing is it was so hopeless that we thought we couldn't change it.


Indians were derided by whites, and treated with the same contemptuous nature that blacks in the South were suffering, although resident Whites blinded themselves to this. As Donald Hansen of the Kennebec Journal wrote in 1965, Maine folk can get pretty upset when a Negro in Mississippi has to move to the back of the bus and yet remain relatively indifferent when they learn that barbers refuse to cut the hair of a Passamaquoddy Indian.

Visit https://www.passamaquoddy.com



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