A new report finds most Maine schools are not teaching Wabanaki studies 21 years after the passage of a landmark 2001 state law requiring schools to teach Maine K–12 students about Wabanaki territories, economic systems, cultural systems, governments, and political systems, as well as the Wabanaki tribes’ relationships with local, state, national, and international governments. However, the new report, published Oct. 10 to mark Indigenous Peoples Day, noted that “there are some successes, including Portland Public Schools, which have collaborated with Wabanaki tribes and experts to reconfigure their curriculum with Wabanaki Studies at the core.”
View the report, which was the result of a collaboration between the Wabanaki Alliance, the Abbe Museum, the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, HERE.
A team of PPS teachers has been working with tribal advisors, students, parents, and community partners to build a preK-12 Wabanaki Studies curriculum that will weave Wabanaki studies into a variety of subjects.
The hope is to launch the curriculum in all district classrooms by the 2024-25 school year, but learning about the Wabanaki or “People of the Dawnland,” as the state’s indigenous peoples are collectively known, is already underway in some classrooms.
For example, third-graders across the district recently were able to engage in a combined social studies and science learning experience that took them to the Presumpscot River to learn about the ecology of the watershed and the role of the Wabanaki in preserving it.
The Portland Public Schools plans to eventually share its Wabanaki Curriculum statewide.