We in Skowhegan have a great deal to be proud of. There is a resilience in this community that has allowed it to thrive for almost 200 years. The recent growth of its downtown area and leadership in local food production, as well as the Bernard Langlais Art Trail and upgrading of parks, speak to a vibrant and future-oriented community.

The Skowhegan State Fair is the nation’s oldest consecutively running agricultural fair. Our school system produces championship sports teams and outstanding scholars who matriculate at the best universities in the country.

Pride does not require demeaning others. The United States, after defeating Germany and Japan in World War II, rebuilt Western Europe and Japan and welcomed our former enemies into the community of nations. This is the work of Americans at their best.

What is cast as conflict between the School Board and the Wabanaki is really a conflict within ourselves. It is a conflict between perceived self-interest and our better inner selves. We do not need to do unnecessary harm to others to feel pride in our accomplishments.

We, as a community, must come to a resolution in which we can truly take pride, a resolution that shows true respect to those who inhabited this land before us and continue to inhabit it. We as a community must demonstrate the wisdom of those leaders from the Greatest Generation who saw a path leading to reconciliation.

There is much we can learn from our Native American neighbors. Their resilience is beyond what most of us can imagine.

We can take pride in the courage to recognize them on terms that makes them feel respected. We can enrich this community by welcoming them.

Roger Renfrew


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