From the Portland Press Herald
MAINE VOICES: Native American teaching resources exist on Web
Maine teachers struggling to integrate this material into their classes don't have to reinvent the wheel.
Lynn Lowell Mayer September 26, 2007
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lynn Lowell Mayer of Enfield is a library media specialist at the Old
Town Elementary School Library.
— It's too bad that a Maine teacher spent time recreating the
wheel for her "Indian-themed project" last year (as reported in
the Maine Sunday Telegram on Aug. 26).
The article implied that no good resources exist to assist
teachers in implementing the law regarding Maine Indian
Mainers, and especially educators, should know that as a result
of L.D. 291, there are historically accurate and culturally
appropriate resources that are readily available.
First, I wonder if anyone has asked their librarians for help?
Public and school librarians around the state have had several
opportunities at recent annual library conferences to learn about
Maine's tribes, how to select appropriate materials and where
they can be acquired.
Here are a few other reputable sources.
The Penobscot Nation received a grant in 2004 from the
Administration for Native Americans to develop the "We Teach"
K-12 curriculum that is teacher-friendly, appropriate, Maine-
Learning-Results-compliant and easy to integrate into lesson
plans (not add-on units).
Workshops were held around the state in 2005, and the lessons
are available by clicking on "search lesson plans" at the L.D. 291
An entire kit with extensive K-12 lessons and resources from
the "We Teach" project can be purchased from the Penobscot
Indian Nation Cultural and Historical Preservation office.
Another round of teacher workshops from a second grant
awarded to the Penobscot Nation is being scheduled for
October. Two of the workshops will be in the Portland area.
Also, the University of Maine recently held its fourth annual
"Wabanaki Institute" for educators. Participants (usually a wide
range of educators, not just social studies teachers) are
immersed in the culture, meet people from area tribal nations
and are provided with an abundance of resources and
The Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance holds several annual
events throughout the state where people can make contacts
and learn about the traditional basket-making process.
Educators can also meet Wabanaki people, watch
demonstrations, and listen to drumming at the annual Common
Ground Fair in Unity.
Maine teacher Betsy Sky-McIlvain has been integrating L.D. 291
into curriculums for several years, and shares her ideas, lessons
and resources for middle-school and high-school teachers on
Teachers could contact Tilbury Publishers to schedule a musical,
cultural or literary visit from Alan Sockabasin, author of a
wonderful Passamaquoddy tale, "Thanks to the Animals," that is
much more than a children's book.
One of the most important issues in teaching about any native
peoples is stereotypes. These have been perpetuated through
children's literature (among other places), so I would encourage
educators to take a look at the whats and whys of appropriate
Native literature on the Web
L.D. 291 is long overdue, and is, unfortunately, another example
of legislation without financial support. Although educators and
librarians tend to be resourceful, they need not recreate the
wheel for Wabanaki studies.
From a non-Native perspective, trying to learn "all about it" can
seem overwhelming. I hope my suggestions will help every
educator in Maine to make a beginning.
We need to ensure that our next generation of educators will
have the knowledge they need to appropriately integrate Maine
Native studies instead of doing token Indian projects.
– Special to the Press Herald