The Wabanaki Alliance gathered for a “Nihkaniyane” – or, translated from Passamaquoddy, “Let’s go forward together” – celebration July 13 to recognize alliances the organization has made in its first three years.

The more than 250 guests at Mallet Barn at Wolfe’s Neck Center in Freeport included members of environmental and social justice organizations, faith groups and land trusts, as well as attorneys, legislators and individual supporters from across the state.

At the core of the Wabanaki Alliance are four tribes: the Mi’kmaq Nation, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation. “We were working so well together on legislation that we created a nonprofit together,” said board president Maulian Bryant, who is also tribal ambassador for the Penobscot Nation.

“The concept behind the Wabanaki Alliance goes back centuries,” said Zeke Crofton-Macdonald, tribal ambassador for the Maliseets. “We’re all part of the Wabanaki Confederacy, which is part of the legal and governance systems. We are independent nations joined together by treaty. The word ‘treaty’ in our language is the same as the word for ‘kinship,’ which is what we’re doing tonight, forming and continuing relationships. We have legislators here from both sides of the aisle, and I don’t know of any other event that would bring them together.”

“Nihkaniyane” happened to take place a week after the governor’s veto of LD 2004, “An Act to Restore Access to Federal Laws Beneficial to the Wabanaki Nations,” was sustained on July 6. Despite this disappointment for the Wabanaki leaders, they emphasized the importance of recognizing, honoring and spending time with each other and their supporters – in effect, “going forward together.”

The event opened and closed with a drum circle by Fire Wolf Singers. Food and drinks were provided by Big Tree and other in-kind sponsors, including Love Point Oysters, Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Co., Maine Beer Co., Mast Landing Brewing and SoPo Wine.


Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis addressed the crowd, saying, “You know, we’ve been here for a few minutes – around 12,000 years – and we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.”

“The tribes are a model for not taking defeat as the final word,” said Jean Konzal, a member of the social justice group at Thornton Oaks Retirement Community in Brunswick.

Tribal leaders presented allied lawmakers with “champion” awards and dream catchers made by Martha Bassett of Old Town.

Executive Director John Dieffenbacher-Krall said, “Tonight is about recognizing the many relationships we’ve built on both sides of the political aisle and political independents – and our commitment to the work that remains.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: