Wabanaki Alliance Celebration Draws Hundreds of Supporters of Tribal Sovereignty

Photo (l-r): Senate President Troy Jackson, Maliseet Chief Clarissa Sabattis, Sen. Rick Bennett, Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis, Rep. John Andrews, House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, Maliseet Tribal Ambassador Osihkiyol Crofton-Macdonald, Passamaquoddy Tribal Representative Aaron Dana, Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador and Wabanaki Alliance President Maulian Bryant and Iris Bryant. Not shown: House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross. Credit: James Dillon III / The Third and Only Photography

More than 200 friends and supporters gathered Thursday, July 13th for the Wabanaki Alliance’s inaugural fundraiser Nihkaniyane: Let’s Go Forward Together at Mallet Barn, Wolfe’s Neck Center, in Freeport. 

The event celebrated the great strides the Alliance has made while advocating for recognition of the inherent sovereignty of Wabanaki Nations. 

Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis summed up the spirit of the event when he said, “You know, we’ve been here for a few minutes – around 12,000 years – and we’re not going anywhere any time soon.”

Guests were treated to a special drumming performance by the Firewolf Singers and heard inspiring remarks from Wabanaki Alliance President and Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador Maulian Bryant, who expressed her appreciation for the many relationships we have built and our commitment to the work that remains. 

Together with Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis, Maliseet Chief Clarissa Sabattis, Maliseet Tribal Ambassador Osihkiyol Crofton-Macdonald, and Passamaquoddy Tribal Representative Aaron Dana, the Alliance presented five outstanding leaders of the Maine Legislature with Wabanaki Champion awards to House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland), Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor), Sen. Rick Bennett (R-Oxford) and Rep. John Andrews (R-Paris). 

House Republican Leader Faulkingham expressed solidarity with the Wabanaki Nations and hope for the future in his remarks, emphasizing that “we made a really big step,” in reference to LD 2004. “It wasn’t far enough in the end but it wasn’t a failure. We will build on it. I promise, we will build on it. And there is more to come.”

These outstanding legislators were gifted custom made dreamcatchers in recognition of their friendship and support of Wabanaki Nations. The dreamcatchers were designed by Martha Newell Bassett, a Penobscot and Passamaquoddy artist who specializes in beadwork. 

After receiving his award, Senate President Jackson said, “Tonight was about continuing to build that trust, that alliance, that fortitude, to go forward and do the right thing for tribal leaders.” 

Senator Bennett expressed a similar sentiment, noting that this issue is about justice. 

As guests departed, they were treated to a final Traveler Song performed by the Firewolf Singers, wishing them safe travels on their journeys home.

Earlier in the afternoon, at a special donor reception, Mi’kmaq Nation Vice Chief Richard Silliboy presented a handmade basket to Darrell Newell in recognition of his service on the Wabanaki Alliance Board of Directors. We thank Carol and Joe Wishcamper for kindly opening their home to us.  

All funds raised at the event will bolster the organization’s ongoing work to make sovereignty a reality and educate the public about tribal communities.

We extend our most sincere gratitude to our generous Host Committee members, in-kind donors, and many volunteers for making our inaugural Nihkaniyane event a terrific success!


Nihkaniyane Host Committee*



Karen Harris & Rob Gips
Roger & Margot Milliken
The Wilderness Society
Carol & Joe Wishcamper


Frances Bodell


William Creighton
Daniel Hildreth


Rachael & Justin Alfond
Appalachian Mountain Club
Campbell Badger
Becky Bartovics
Susan Bickford
Conservation Law Foundation
Sam Deeran
Defend Our Health
First Light
Karen Heck & Bruce Olson
Anne Henshaw
Ayana Johnson
Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters
Maine Conservation Voters
Maine Environmental Education Association
Maine Equal Justice
Maine Farmland Trust
Maine Initiatives
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Audrey Maynard
Jennifer Melville & Alex Abbott
National Parks Conservation Association
Natural Resources Council of Maine
Nature Conservancy in Maine
Bonnie Porta
Dan Rose and Ann Beatty-Rose
Sierra Club Maine Chapter
Katie Mae Simpson
Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative
Yemaya & Lucas St. Clair
Betsy Sweet
Jessica Temple Tardy
Trust for Public Land

In-Kind Donors

Big Tree Catering
Love Point Oysters
Maine Beer Company
Mare Brook Farm
Mast Landing Brewing Company
Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Company
SoPo Wine Co
Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment

*List as of 7/13/2023