June 21, 2024

Kihtahkomikumon (Our Land) – #IsLandBack in Passamaquoddy Territory

a Documentary Short Film by Sunlight Media Collective

Originally known as Kuwesuwi Monihq (Pine Island), and renamed “White’s Island” by settlers, this place has deep historical and cultural significance to the Passamaquoddy community.

In 2021, by an act of humanism, solidarity, and reparation, the Passamaquoddy tribe has been reunited with 140 acres of their unceded Ancestral territory – part of the largest island in Kci Monosakom, (Big Lake) Maine. To the Passamaquoddy people, it’s more than land return; it is the return of a stolen family member. In this short film, we join Passamaquoddy community members who are finally able to reunite with their non-human Relative.

The island was included as part of the Tribe’s Modahkomikuk (Indian Township) reservation in the 1794 Treaty with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980. Despite treaty agreements, Kuwesuwi Monihq, or Pine Island, was stolen from the people at some point during the mid-1800s and renamed White’s Island. In fact, it seems to have been stolen by renaming it…once it became White’s Island on the map, it no longer matched the language of the 1794 treaty, which identifies Pine Island as protected, reserved land. The island fell out of Tribal stewardship quietly as colonizers bought up parcels. Once the island was considered privately owned, the Passamaquoddy people were denied access.

Land dispossession is a barrier to Wabanaki people who are practicing their culture and connecting with their homelands. As Tribal Nations, we are endowed with the Sacred responsibility to protect the lands we come from. In return, these lands protect us. This understanding is at the heart of the #LandBack movement, which has taken off across Turtle Island. Passamaquoddy people can now visit Kuwesuwi Monihq safely, enjoy their kinship connection to the island, and know that they will not be asked to leave.

In efforts to heal the Earth and the damaged relationship between Indigenous and colonizing peoples, the #LandBack movement has already seen the return of millions of acres to tribes. For the Passamaquoddy, the return of their relative, Kuwesuwi Monihq, will help them fulfill those Sacred responsibilities and heal along with the land and water.