The history of the native people in Maine following the arrival of the settlers is a tragic one. This is perhaps illustrated best by the disturbing event on Aug. 23, 1724, that is euphemistically referred to as the Battle of Norridgewock.

On this date, over 200 armed men led by British colonial soldiers descended on the Abenaki village located on the Kennebec River. The invaders killed all they encountered, even women and children as they attempted to flee. The bodies of many of the murdered Abenaki floated down the Kennebec and were retrieved by survivors later at Skowhegan Falls.

The unfortunate history of the Euro-Americans’ relationship to the Abenaki people is being played out today at Skowhegan Area High School. The tribes have said that the Indians name is hurtful. Its continued use ignores the pleas of those who are adversely affected.

As children, we were reminded of the Golden Rule, instructed to be kind to others, and to reflect on the importance of empathy: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

As an institution of learning, surely Skowhegan Area High School seeks to instill good and proper values in its student body. Change, which includes breaking old self-serving patterns, is essential to the evolution of humanity. Admittedly, it is sometimes difficult to relinquish that which no longer serves us, particularly when there is an emotional attachment to that thing. However, a higher good will be served in this instance.

Furthermore, the community can move beyond this controversy by establishing an advisory body comprised of representatives of the Maine tribes and others who would work together to develop a shared vision for Skowhegan’s future. This is the type of pride that is unifying, not divisive.

 

Daria Goggins

Richmond


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