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The Rural Maine Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the Betterment Fund.

Ancestral lands near Brownville returned to the Penobscot Nation

The Penobscot Nation is celebrating the historic return of a 735-acre parcel, part of the Penobscots’ ancestral territory and home to native brook trout, Atlantic salmon, deer and moose.

It’s located to the west of the Pleasant River and the town of Brownville.

In a written statement, the tribe’s Natural Resources Director John Banks called it “sacred ground” because of its role in providing sustenance for many tribal families.

Chief Kirk Francis said the Penobscot Nation is grateful to Elliotsville Foundation for returning the land that was taken from them.

“Through this gesture, Elliotsville Foundation has shown its commitment to strengthen and honor their relationship with the Wabanaki Tribes and recognize our long-standing cultural connection with the land and water,” Chief Francis said.

“It’s surrounded by Penobscot land and so it made a lot of sense for continuity and also for larger reasons to give land back to the tribe,” says Lucas St. Clair of the Elliotsville Foundation.

The foundation, along with 50 land trusts, have joined together in First Light, an effort to learn the history of Wabanaki land dispossession and to work to expand Wabanaki presence in their ancestral territory. Currently, the Penobscot Nation and other Wabanaki tribes have access to less than 1 percent of the land that once supported their cultures.

For disclosure, Lucas St. Clair is a member of Maine Public's Board of Trustees.

Updated: April 15, 2022 at 10:28 AM EDT
The original headline and photo have been changed to better reflect native history and perspective.