One World, Many Voices

Language Communities

Wabanaki: People of the Dawn

Language is the roadmap to culture.
— Wayne Newell, Passamaquoddy elder and language educator, Maine

The Wabanaki Indians of northern Maine—the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot—have made great efforts to restore, sustain, and revitalize the cultural knowledge and traditions of their ancestors. Through basketry, music, song, and dance, maple sugaring, ice fishing activities, and language classes they are passing down their treasured ways of life to the next generation. The Passamaquoddy language, once vibrant, has only a few hundred fluent native speakers left, most over fifty years old. The tribe has taken action to keep the Passamaquoddy language alive, including publishing a massive Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Dictionary and conducting innovative language and cultural programs that reach out to tribal youth in the schools and community. “It takes a commitment by the community,” says Passamaquoddy elder and language educator Wayne Newell. “We’re trying to bring up a whole new generation of speakers.”

This presentation was made possible by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.


Festival Participants:

Cassandra Dana, Passamaquoddy student, dancer
Stacey Dana, Passamaquoddy student, dancer
Brenda Lozada, Passamaquoddy language teacher, dancer
George Neptune, Passamaquoddy basket maker, museum educator
Jennifer Sapiel Neptune, Penobscot basketmaker
Wayne Newell, Passamaquoddy storyteller, singer, educator
Molly Neptune Parker, Passamaquoddy basket maker, language educator
Gabriel Paul, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet basket maker, language instructor
Theresa Secord, Penobscot basketmaker
Blanche Sockabasin, Passamaquoddy elder, singer, teacher