We write in response to the October Times Record article about Freeport’s “Big Indian” (“With new owners, ‘Big Indian’ statue to remain in Freeport — for now,” Oct. 13).

We hear John Bear Mitchell who says that the statue is “disrespectful” to the Maine tribes. We find the statue’s presence to be an outdated reflection of the way we regard our Wabanaki neighbors, and it ignores the unique cultures and complex history of the many bands and tribes of this region. Difficult conversations about Indian mascots have taught us that misrepresentations are inaccurate, dehumanizing and harmful because they are based on stereotypes, essentially erasing the personhood of those they misrepresent. If we are to create communities where we all can thrive, we must see and hear each other as human beings. Removing the statue would help us do that.

The statue contributes to our legacy of not seeing the real people who are our neighbors and the original inhabitants of this land. Maine remains last among states to recognize the legal rights exercised by nearly all other federally recognized tribes across the country. LD 1626, legislation now pending in the Maine legislature, would help restore some of those rights. In order to understand that legislation, we must let go of stereotypes that separate us from each other. Removing the statue and supporting LD 1626 would demonstrate our learning and show respect for our neighbors – people with whom we share deep connection to this place and its traditions. It is time.Margaret Williams,Cathey Cyrus,
BrunswickMembers of Mid Coast Indigenous Awareness Group

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