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The Passamaquoddy Tribe hosted the Native Nations Institute (NNI) for a three-day facilitated leadership and planning workshop. Passamaquoddy leaders reconnected with NNI when they attended NNI’s 2018 January in Tucson nation building courses and decided to move forward with an in-depth nation building session. NNI’s Executive Director Joan Timeche (Hopi), Tribal Outreach Specialist/Senior Researcher Danielle Hiraldo (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina), and Senior Tribal Services Program Coordinator Lindsay Riggs (Diné) were joined by former Chairwoman Karen Diver of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior to facilitate two nation building workshops on the Passamaquoddy reservation.
Session one was a 1.5-day workshop for Passamaquoddy community members. More than 75 Passamaquoddy citizens attended. NNI staff delivered nation building curriculum that included case study presentations and discussion, implementation of nation building lessons, and research on why and how some nations succeed while others do not. Diver shared, “It’s always interesting to see what people’s expectations are at the beginning of these sessions. There is a moment where everyone has an opportunity to voice struggles and concerns. Eventually, however, we get to a point where citizen engagement turns from a focus on the negative to a process of building and that’s where the work gets interesting. People realize they have a role in the process and they begin to explore complaints in a different context, one that leads to citizen responsibility.”
The Passamaquoddy’s traditional territory is divided by the International Boundary, resulting in two communities, Indian Township and Pleasant Point being located in the United States, and the St. Croix/Schoodic Band of Passamaquoddies located in Canada. Representatives from all three areas were present for the nation building sessions.
Session two was reserved for elected leaders and department directors to focus on prioritization and development of implementation strategies of critical issues that surfaced during the first session. NNI staff worked with the participants to break down and assess what governing systems they have in place and how effective they are. Are the roles and responsibilities of leaders clear and enforced? Additionally, NNI helped the group review an existing strategic plan in order to identify areas that need revising, enforcement, or that are working as intended. Updated priorities included: Eleyultimok (who we are, what we do, and how we behave), restructuring Passamaquoddy government, individual and community healing and wellness, creating sustainable commerce, improving the health care infrastructure, and examining/re-defining citizenship. Finally, NNI helped the leaders create actions plans to move forward their visions. A participant summed up the sessions with this statement, “As broken as we are, its proven today we are still trying to heal - Nation Building should continue to help us reach that goal.”
Images: Passamaquoddy tribal members, Lindsay Riggs, Karen Diver, Joan Timeche, Danielle Hiraldo