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Representation of Wabanaki Voices and Values in "Maine Won't Wait," a Four-Year Climate Action Plan

Louise Chaplin | Rural Youth Organizer: Penobscot County

In order to address climate change in Maine, the Maine State Government released a climate action plan entitled "Maine Won’t Wait: A Four Year Plan for Climate Action," developed by the Maine Climate Council. This study aims to understand what environmental values may be held broadly by the Indigenous peoples of Maine, known as the Wabanaki, and to what degree these values are represented in Maine’s climate plan. "Maine Won’t Wait" (MWW) was evaluated on representation during its creation, language used, its commitment to equity, and the administration under which it was enacted. A literature review was conducted to identify a list of 8 Wabanaki environmental values. These values, along with "American" cultural values identified by Kohls (1984) were compared to the 30 strategy items outlined in MWW. Additional data on land use and natural resource preferences was sourced from a survey completed for the Aroostook Band of Mi’kmaq and the Houlton Band of Maliseet tribes, and these values were also compared to land use and natural resource goals outlined in MWW. MWW included several Indigenous representatives in its creation and in its Equity Subcommittee. The plan also included goals to preserve forestry and farming industries, which were found to be important to some tribes. MWW also discussed the importance of minimizing disproportionate health impacts of climate change on the Wabanaki. However, its natural resource goals did not include non-industrial fishing, a top concern for some tribes. Crucially, there was no reference to the need for or benefits of tribal sovereignty, highly valued by the Wabanaki. It was found that 100% of MWW strategy items represented at least one "American" cultural value, while 10% of strategy items represented at least one Wabanaki environmental value, demonstrating that the plan is not fully representative of Indigenous values and goals.

See pdf below for full paper and findings.

Wabanaki Values in MWW
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