Spirit churning wildly upon the ocean’s door
Can’t find no when or why for
Waves of life cuts to the core
Searching for the safest shore
Antiseptic sting on an open wound
Whimpering mind of a distressed loon
Crying out its sorrowful tunes
Longing for solitude of a darkened moon
So much to say yet words elude
Emotions stymied for a jolly good mood
Confusion professes an ominous attitude
Where to go and not intrude
Beaten body breaks the bar
Traveled roads to near and far
Stumbled and tumbled across the tar
Reliving each and every scar
Yet the quest remains to walk the path
Getting wet is part of the bath
One day this journey will make us laugh
Together our stories are only half
Down East Spring
Entering a new dawn is a sense of time not a place
It is a continuance of the spiritual journey to our inner space
Riding high on eagle wing
Alleluia the choirs sing
As birds chirp in the awaited Spring
The orange sun rises over the bay
Bringing forth god’s beautiful day
Soft winds sway the spruce trees to and fro
Tree buds begin to burst and show
As the crocus begins to grow
Over the bay a duck goes back and forth
As the geese travel south to north
Another day in Down East
Working together we can fill it with peace
And celebrate the daily feast
Just as the sun travels across the sky
Creating shadows as it passes by
Life’s journey touches many along our path
With each encounter we cry or laugh
While the Father guides us always with His loving staff
Blessed are we with each step we take
Blessed are we with each memory we make
No need for club or knife
Just hands reaching out to calm our neighbor’s strife
Sharing our love in the circle of life
May god always be with you to guide your journey, fill you with His merciful love, and bless you with peace Niyalic (Amen).
Down the Beach
Warmth gently blowing across your face
Nourishing the soul with memories of a special place
Waves and sand rustle and race
Your being is in a state of grace
Wind continues to lightly blow through your hair
As you nurture the past with loving care
Amazingly in the mind’s eye special people, places, and things reappear
Feeling the love forms a single tear
Barefoot in the sand you walk along
Playing in your head is your special life song
Beauty surrounds and seagulls caw where love belongs
Down the beach and nothing’s wrong
I see the world as a Native man
That is what I know, that is what I am
Though slightly swayed by the world around
I cling to traditions my ancestors bound
I see the birds fly their course
Looking for nourishment in life’s own source
Hear the waves splash to and fro
And ancient melody we all should know
Striving to tend to my Mother Earth
Who cradled and cared from my birth
I still hold tight to the ways of the past
Tried and true built to last
They are there for me within my grasp
Dancing on the clouds
covered with majestic shrouds
gold and pearls mingle at your feet
gliding to the feeling of a native heartbeat
Happiness ensues at the sacred reunion
passionately embracing long lost kin
A comfortable euphoria begins within and everyone’s
Comfort radiates throughout body and soul.
All that was part is now made whole
As the endless fields roll and roll.
The warmth of the Sun is a majestic glow
The flute and drum produce the heavenly sound
as each spirit is unvaryingly crowned
Harmony and Justice compose the ground
Love eternal abounds …. Home
Excerpt from Soup and Sermon
I see the water as a guiding spirit. Water is a spirit that refreshes and renews my inner self. Water reveals to me through its humble spirit as sense of belonging to something much greater than myself. Realizing that I am a part of a great mystery that interacts and intertwines with other elements of the universe provides my life with meaning and substance. The reliability of water’s motion as in the tides and the waves shows me the importance of consistency of maintaining a harmonious balance in life. I see through flowing water the constant passing of time and the trials that lie in my path. The path that I choose to journey though this world is filled with stretches of solitude and gentle flowing that can abruptly give way to turbulent rapids or a sudden drop like a waterfall. Regardless of the encounter flowing water shows me that I must enjoy the quiet and beautiful stretches and endure the chaotic with an inner serenity. The wisdom that water shares is a knowing that if my path is true, it will lead me to my destiny that is back to the Great Father.
Passamaquoddy leader gives historic speech to Maine State Legislature
Original pub. 2002
Updated September 12, 2018
Good Morning, I bring greetings from Sipayik. I had two choices this morning, my war club or my peace pipe, but I am here to make peace.
Thank you for inviting me here today. My name is Rick Doyle, my traditional title is Sakom, but I am now called Governor of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point. The Passamaquoddy are proud members of the Wabanaki people. I am honored to be the guest of the Maine Legislature. This is a historic occasion and a historic opportunity for the Passamaquoddy people and the people of Maine. My hope is that this is the beginning of a new era of cooperation, trust, and partnership as we move forward and look to the future. While our past has been colored by distrust, we are willing to walk forward together in friendship to help raise the quality of life of my people and all the people of Maine.
My people have lived in Maine and parts of Canada for more than 500 generations. We were once the most predominant people in this area, living in harmony with Great Mother, receiving her bounty and protecting the watershed. We lived off the mountains, the water, the woods, and the land. We were fishermen in the summer and hunters in the winter. Great Mother provided for us and we were there to nurture, protect and preserve her bounty. We have a spiritual connection to the earth and have always viewed ourselves as caretakers of the land, river and Great Mother.
We believe that everything in nature is interconnected, the water, the land, the people, the plants and the animals. When we pick sweet grass, we do so blade by blade to honor the spirit of each blade. We then clean the sweet grass in the field so that the seeds may fall back into the field, where nature intended them to fall so that the field can continue.
It has always been so with our people. We harvest only what we need from the land. We view each animal and plant separately based on its environment and connection to nature and US. In turn, we look to the land and Great Mother for signs of danger and injury and work to protect her. In that way, all of creation can replenish itself.
From the beginning of European settlement, we held out the hand of friendship, first with the French, then the English and finally with the American colonists. We assisted French explorers who sought our knowledge of the area as well as our help with their new settlements. When the English arrived, we signed treaties with the understanding that we would share the land with them. We shared the land and Great Mother’s bounty with the new colonists. When the new colonists arrived, we were there when they needed us.
In the hopes of protecting some of our land base, we signed a treaty with the Commonwealth and later with the State of Maine. The U.S. Congress never ratified these treaties. These treaties gave us title to several islands, a 23,000-acre township and several smaller tracts of land, including 10 acres at Pleasant Point, which through our efforts was later increased. Despite the lack of federal protections, the tribe followed the tenets of this treaty even after the State of Maine was created in 1820.
Three years after the State of Maine was made a state, our people were given non-voting representation in the Maine Legislature. Through these representatives we were able to secure the establishment of the Passamaquoddy Trust Fund to finance emergency aid for the needy. The fund was financed from the proceeds of timber sales, grass and power rights on our land. Such aid was desperately needed to help our people who were in dire straits. Despite being on the rail lines, our people were not allowed to take advantage of the situation and remained reliant on hunting, fishing, trapping, basket making, and other traditional arts. Interest from this fund was paid to the Indian Agents who were supposed to be looking out for our welfare. Instead, we were given the leftovers, thus beginning a long cycle of welfare dependency. Where was the State of Maine when we needed your help and protection? Again, we had been taken advantage of by those we trusted.
Later, in the 1960s, we discovered that part of our land was sold or leased without Federal consent. This discovery set off a legal battle that resulted in federal recognition for the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot peoples and a claim by the tribes to nearly two-thirds of the State of Maine. Despite legal victory after legal victory, we sought compromise with the state. The future of Maine as a whole was at stake. Government functions, businesses and people’s lives were held in the balance as long as this court case was being pursued. The result of that compromise was the Maine Indian Settlement Act, under which we operate now.
Unfortunately, the Settlement Act has not achieved its goal. It is a failed experiment, in my mind. We seek only to maintain and exercise our sovereignty to protect our way of life. The settlement gave us more authority over our internal matters and allowed us to keep our federal recognition. However, it also left open questions over jurisdiction. As called for in the Settlement Act, I would urge the Maine Tribal State Commission to review the Settlement Act and to suggest changes to help bring it into a new era and clarify the questions of jurisdiction that were left open.
These questions have led us to our current situation. We want to ensure that we have clean water. Plain and simple. The current court cases and arguments made by the paper companies are not about documents to us. It is about our right to clean water. It is about the health and safety of our people.
I am fighting for my people’s right to continue our traditions and way of life without fear of poisons or toxins in our water. We want to continue to be able to fish, swim, canoe, sustain ourselves and harvest our medicines. In sum, we ask that we be allowed to continue to practice our traditions and culture as we have for more than 500 generations. Polluters have been discharging toxins into the river that make the fish unsafe to eat, the water unsafe to swim in and that threaten the very vitality of the river itself.
It is my duty not only to my people, but also to Mother Earth to protect the river and the water. That is why we have fought so hard and vigorously on the issue of water quality. If I must be imprisoned to protect the river, then so be it. This is worth fighting for. Money and power are fleeting. Nature is forever. My people are forever. We will not back down. We will continue to fight for our right to clean water, no matter how long, and no matter what the cost.
We are encouraged by the Governor’s offer of negotiations to find a way to solve this matter outside of court. It has always been my hope that we could settle the problems between the Passamaquoddy, the state, and the other parties involved through negotiation. However, we must make it clear that our main goal is the preservation of the bays, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds in order to protect the health and safety of our people. We hope that these negotiations will open a new chapter in our relationship with the State of Maine. Despite the problems of the past, we seek cooperation and consensus. We see progress and a growing understanding of our concerns on this issue and others. Together, we can help to protect our state’s natural resources and the lifeblood of our culture: the river and its watershed. Together, we can begin to build the foundations for a new relationship between the Passamaquoddy and the people of Maine.
Throughout history, the Passamaquoddy have been there when the people and the United States needed us. Our people fought in many wars for the United States to protect our country, our land and our way of life. From the Revolutionary War to the present, my people have fought valiantly to protect our nation. This, despite the fact we were not granted the right to vote in Maine until 1954. This is the first time in 182 years that tribal leaders have addressed the Maine Legislature. We have always taken great pride in fighting for our nation to preserve its liberty. Even in today’s conflicts, our presence is noticed. The U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, through a friend of the tribes, have requested a Passamaquoddy flag to be flown by one of its pilots during a bombing mission against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. We are proud to provide this symbol to our fighting forces overseas and are always prepared to provide whatever assistance is necessary to protect this great nation of ours against all attacks.
We look forward to this opportunity for a new relationship with great expectations. We enter these negotiations with Governor King and the paper companies with the hope that our waters will be protected. We do this despite the challenges of the past. Whenever we were asked, we came willingly to the aid of the State. We ask for your assistance now. Help us to protect our waters. Help us to grow economically. Help us to protect our traditions and culture. And, most importantly, let’s help each other to become better neighbors and partners.
Rick Doyle was born and raised in East Hartford, Connecticut, and summered in the Passamaquoddy community of Sipayik. There he enjoyed the freedom of being raised by a community. When he began his many academic pursuits, he moved home to his ancestral land in the place we now call Maine. His love of education led him to achieve degrees in Community Health Education, Public Administration and Pastoral Studies. This quiet Passamaquoddy man loved his people and served them as Sakom (chief), health promoter, and as an ordained deacon. He advanced the economic, spiritual and physical well-being of the Passamaquoddy. He fought for water rights. He fought for sovereignty. To use his own words, “sovereignty is a gift of the Creator so that we may determine our own destinies as unique people.” He dedicated his life to the land, his people, his tribe.