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Maine tribe reacquires historically significant island lands

May 18, 2021 GMT

INDIAN TOWNSHIP, Maine (AP) — A Native American tribe in Maine has partnered with conservation groups to take back ownership of an island that is historically significant to its members.

The Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township said Monday that it has reacquired 140 acres of ancestral lands on an island in Big Lake in rural eastern Maine. The tribe said the island was originally known as Kuwesuwi Monihq, or Pine Island, and renamed “White’s Island” by settlers.

The tribe worked with First Light and The Nature Conservancy to reacquire the island. The island was most recently listed for $449,000, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The tribe said in a statement that the island was once used as place to store food in root cellars. Tribal members once used it to deliver food to sick relatives who were in quarantine during a smallpox epidemic brought by settlers from England and France, the tribe said.

Indian Township Chief William Nicholas said the return of the island to the tribe helps correct a longstanding injustice.

“There is no doubt that the ancestors are jumping all over the place over there,” he said.