Carol Dana

My Grandfather

My grandfather, Sylvester Francis, used to hunt and trap in the Sunkhaze area. He also took all kinds of jobs to put food on the table. I’m sure his hunting and trapping put food on the table. Back in the day we lived in direct relation with the earth. Well he was known to take a deer now and then in hard times. He was going into his camp when the game wardens came rushing in. “We know you have a deer in here,” they said. “We want to have a look around.” “Take a look,” my grandfather told them. So they did. “Well, I don’t see anything here,” they said. So, they left. All that time my grandfather was standing on a little rise in the snow. It was his deer covered up.
A lot of people poached to stay alive. At the turn of the nineteenth century is when our people came off the islands in the river, due to the restrictions placed upon them by the state. This was assimilation and the beginning of the loss of our language.
Raymond Paul told me in the eighties, “You and Barry are trying to turn around a trend that started sixty years ago, when the bigwigs of the tribe went door to door and told the people never mind making baskets, we need to work in town. Never mind your language, we need to learn to speak English now.”

Carol Danaphoto of Carol Dana

Born and raised on Indian Island, Carol Dana has six children and nine grandchildren. In 2008 she earned her MA in Education at the University of Maine. She has devoted years to Penobscot language revitalization, working with linguist Frank Siebert on the Penobscot dictionary project during the 1980s, and teaching Penobscot at the Indian Island School during the 1990s. Carol currently works at the Cultural and Historic Preservation Department for the Penobscot Nation where she uses her skills as a language master to teach and continue learning the language teaching methods. She teaches at the Penobscot Nation Daycare center, Boys and Girls Club, and with the elders in the community. In 2010 at the Algonquian Language Conference, Carol was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to the Penobscot Language.  She is the author of two books of poetry, When No One Is Looking and Return to Spirit and Other Musings, both published by Bowman Books.