LEWISTON — The school district is considering the addition of an indigenous land acknowledgement to meetings, with input from local indigenous communities.

The issue was discussed at Monday’s meeting, as School Committee members kicked the idea over to the Curriculum Committee to consider how best to create such a recognition.

An indigenous land acknowledgement is a statement read before every meeting recognizing the indigenous people who inhabited the area before Europeans colonized the United States, according to information provided by Superintendent Jake Langlais.

“This is not an area of expertise of mine,” Langlais said, remarking how he carefully prepared information for the committee.

He reached out to members of the Wabanaki — a conglomerate of four indigenous Maine tribes made up of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes — who recommended a guide on how to proceed with an indigenous land acknowledgement.

School Committee Chair Megan Parks said she asked that an acknowledgement be put on the agenda after Lewiston Education Association President Jaye Rich asked that the committee consider it.


Parks wants the process to be intentional and informative, instead of just “throwing something together,” she said.

Ward 2 Representative Janet Beaudoin said she does not think it is necessary to do an acknowledgement before every meeting but stressed that she does not mean any disrespect. She instead suggested that the acknowledgement be placed somewhere on the district website.

“I just am simply questioning the effectiveness or the relevance of a land acknowledgement,” she said. “It will likely be seen as performative or tokenistic without really leading to a meaningful action or a change.”

Ward 3 Representative Elizabeth Eames suggested that the Policy Committee or a subcommittee look at the acknowledgement before the School Committee consider it. She would like to see something folded into the acknowledgement that applies to curriculum as well, she said.

The Maine Legislature has required that schools add Wabanaki studies into their curriculum, Eames said.

Ward 6 Representative Meghan Hird grew up in Old Town and some of her classmates were members of the Penobscot Nation, she said. Based on her research, land acknowledgments are made when there is no real intention of returning land, serving only as a way to absolve people until the next public gathering.


“I don’t know (that) by just saying something acknowledging the land that we’re on is really making a difference because we’re not actually; there’s not an action there that we’re giving back or something that we’re doing other than simply stating it,” Hird said.

Ward 5 Representative Ashley Medina said she was talking with a person before the meeting who echoed many of Hird’s concerns with the land acknowledgement, she said. As a Mexican-indigenous person, Medina said the acknowledgement means something more to other people because she understands Maine was once the land of the Wabanaki people.

“I think it’s just important to recognize that,” Medina said. “… I know we can’t change those things, I just feel like my ancestors would say ‘thank you for acknowledging that.’”

Eames said she thinks that adding the acknowledgement along with teaching Wabanaki studies in school curriculums is pairing an action with the acknowledgement.

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