Doctrine of Discovery and Rights of Indigenous Peoples

UU Community Church, Augusta, Maine: Interfaith Alliances for Reconciliation and Healing

UU Community Church of Augusta, Maine youth on service learning trip

UU Community Church, Augusta, ME, Youth Service Learning trip: Back to Basics Camp - Wabanaki Tribal Youth Camp. Pictured here with RezHeads motivational leaders are UUCC youth George Spahn, Sophia Oliveri, Anna Hodgkins, Ru Allan. June 2013.

In 2011, the Wabanaki Tribal Governments and the State of Maine entered an agreement to set up a Maine-Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The Commission heard stories of native children removed from their culture by the State Child Welfare System and forced to assimilate into white culture. Following the report and recommendations of the TRC, Maine-Wabanaki REACH (Reconciliation-Engagement-Advocacy-Change-Healing) was founded. REACH, an organization of Native and non-Native people, works to implement the recommendations of the TRC in a manner that is directed by the Wabanaki people.

Through their minister, Rev. Carie Johnsen, the Community Church of Augusta has become very involved in REACH, and a dozen members of the congregation have received REACH Ally training and attend legislative hearings and workshops on bills relevant to tribal communities and people.

UU Community Church of Augusta, Maine members sit with Penobscot Nation members at Legislative workshop on Violence Against Women Act.

Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta, Maine members Priscilla Jenkins and Mary Perkins attend Legislative workshop on Violence Against Women Act with Penobscot Nation members. January 2016.

With the support of a 2013 seed grant from the UUA, four youth provided food service for Back-to-Basics Tribal Youth Camp in Houlton, Maine. All parents and youth completed cross-cultural engagement and sensitivity training. The youth group has since become involved in education and justice initiatives, facilitating the discussion that followed a presentation of the film, Penobscot River: Ancestral Territory, Contested River.

The congregation provides space for a variety of meetings and events to facilitate the work of REACH, and has hosted book discussions and films as part of ongoing community education efforts. Rev. Johnsen has been a leader in building relationships across faith lines to do the work of reconcilation, education, and healing. In 2015, the Capital Area Multi-faith Association led a well-attended interfaith service, Turning Toward Truth: Forging a New Understanding of Thanksgiving. This year, Rev. Johnsen and the Co-Director of Maine-Wabanki REACH have begun engaging denominational leaders in Maine in research, study and practice of decolonizing faith.

Capital Area Mulitfaith Association leads interfaith service Turning Toward Truth: Forging a New Understanding of Thanksgiving. November 2015.

View the service liturgy

Screening dirt, archeological dig, Penobscot Reservation, ME

Archeological Dig, Indian Island, Penobscot Reservation

UUCC Minister, Rev. Carie Johnsen participated in “Penobscot People & Places: A Voluntourism Experience,” a blend of culture, recreation, and work centered around tribe’s natural resources. Photos from work project: archeological dig (screening dirt) on Indian Island, Penobscot Reservation. July 2013.

Archeological dig, Penobscot reservation, ME
screening dirt, archeological dig, Penobscot Reservation, ME

Reflections from UU Community Church members

Coming together in communities of understanding, love, and having compassion...helps us all to heal the past, and allowing our hearts to open and receive happiness in the the present moment together. ~ Lorna Doone

I was thrilled when I learned about REACH, that UU's were getting involved and that my home congregation was hosting a local training I could attend...It was an especially great opportunity to spend a day with people who are supportive of the Wabanaki people, and for the few of us to share our heritage. ~Mary Perkins