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Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument will feature Wabanaki culture, programming

Tekαkαpimək under construction, West Wing, in February 2023.
Wright-Ryan Construction
The West Wing of the Wabanaki visitor station, Tekαkαpimək, under construction in February 2023.

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument have launched a $35 million capital campaign to support a new phase of development. Some of the money will be used for general park improvements such as roads and paths but there are also plans to fund creation of a visitor contact station and Wabanaki-directed programming and projects.

The monument's 87,000 acres are located within the present and traditional homeland of the Penobscot Nation. Land and waters in this region are inextricably linked to tribal history, ceremonies, oral traditions and indigenous stewardship. Just a few miles away Katahdin looms in the distance. Jennifer Neptune, a citizen of the Penobscot Nation said the mountain is culturally significant for all four tribes in Maine. She serves on the Wabanaki Advisory Board which is guiding the creation of the visitor contact station.

"We're so excited because it's unusual that we're the ones that get to tell the story of a place that's deeply special and meaningful to us and that's been home to our ancestors for thousands of years," Neptune said.

The visitors contact station is expected to feature artwork, educational and interpretive programs and other projects as directed by the Wabanaki board, which includes two members from each of the Wabanaki nations. Among the other partners in the project are the Elliotsville Foundation, which helped establish the monument, and the National Park Service. The contact station will include an eastern lookout for visitors to view Katahdin. Neptune said she hopes the project will help visitors better understand the importance of the landscape and its story.

A rending of the Wabanaki cultural welcome center, Tekαkαpimək, by Saunders Architecture.
Image by Mir
A rendering of the Wabanaki cultural welcome center, Tekαkαpimək, by Saunders Architecture.

So far, more than 200 donors have contributed nearly $23 million toward the $35 million goal, with major gifts from the Roxanne Quimby Foundation, Elliotsville Foundation, Inc, Burt's Bees, LL Bean and the National Park Foundation. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was created by a presidential proclamation in 2016. Land for the monument was donated to the federal government by Burt's Bee's Founder Roxanne Quimby through Elliotsville Foundation to mark the centennial of the National Park Service. The monument has since been recognized for its dark skies and is the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary on the eastern seaboard of the U.S.

Interested donors for what's being billed as "A Monumental Welcome," can contact the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters for more information.