Flotilla formed to protect the Penobscot

Flotilla formed to protect the Penobscot

On Saturday, more than a hundred Mainers from across the state gathered at the Bangor waterfront and in canoes, kayaks and other craft on the Penobscot River to celebrate the waterway and support the Penobscot Nation’s ongoing struggle to protect the river and the local watershed.

In May, the Penobscot Nation defended its jurisdiction over the waters of the Penobscot Reservation before the US Court of Appeals in Boston; a decision is pending. Currently the health of the River must meet federal standards that protect Native sustenance fishing rights. A “taking” of the river waters by the State of Maine threatens water quality standards and Native sovereignty.

“The Penobscot River is the life-blood of our tribe. It has sustained the Penobscot Nation for thousands of years and continues to provide food, medicines, and cultural enrichment today. Any threat to the ecological integrity of the Penobscot River is a threat to the spiritual, cultural, economic, and social fabric of the Penobscot Nation,” said John Banks, the Director of the Department of Natural Resources for the Penobscot Nation.

The rally, sponsored by more than a dozen local organizations including the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine and 350 Maine, also highlighted other current challenges to the watershed of the Penobscot River, including a proposed expansion of the Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town, changes to Maine’s mining regulations, proposed water mining in Penobscot County, and a continuing debate over an East-West Corridor across the state.

Participants also unfurled a banner reading “Protect the Water” off the side of the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge.

Photo via Nickie Sekera.

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