2022 Common Ground Fair Keynote Speaker (Friday 9/24/22): Maulian Dana

Producer: Pepin Mittelhauser

Maulian Dana
Tribal Ambassador for the Penobscot Nation

“Tribal Sovereignty in Wabanaki Homeland: History, Policy, Connectedness, and the Next Generations”

Maulian Dana serves as the first appointed Tribal Ambassador for the Penobscot Nation. She represents the tribe in local, state and federal government as an advocate and diplomat. Her background is in political science, activism, Penobscot culture, teaching and policy. She serves as the president of the board of directors for the Wabanaki Alliance, the co-chair of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations, and is a member of the Maine Climate Council where she also co-chairs a subcommittee on equity. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maine and she received an honorary law doctorate from Colby College. She is the proud mother of three daughters Carmella, age 15, Layla, age 13, and Iris who was born this year on May 31. Addressing and bringing action to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two-spirits and relatives is also one of her passions. Her policy achievements include helping to pass laws in Maine that eliminated racist Indian mascots, changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, and extended Violence Against Women Act federal provisions to tribes in Maine.

Dana’s home, the Penobscot Nation, is one of five tribes that make up the Wabanaki Confederacy. The others are the Abenaki, Passamaquoddy, Mikmaq and Maliseet. There are five tribal communities in the land now called Maine and their ancestors have been stewards of this homeland for over 10,000 years. Their creation stories and cultural knowledge tell us that this land has sustained us since time immemorial. With this rich and deep relationship the Wabanaki have here with these lands there also is an undercurrent of injustice and trauma from the colonization era to the present day.

Dana will address some of the reasons tribal sovereignty in Maine has such a complicated history and future. She will discuss the recent legislative session that found tribal issues making progress in some areas and facing barriers in others. This topic also brings to light how self-determination for the tribes is connected to every facet of life for Wabanaki governance, health, stewardship of Mother Earth, traditional wellbeing and spiritual resilience. She looks forward to exchanging in dialogue and is honored to join the Common Ground Country Fair speakers.