Students in the Penobscot Theatre Company's summer program rehearse their parts in Transformer Tales: Stories of the Dawnland at the theatre in Bangor Wednesday. Credit: Ashley L. Conti / BDN

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Historically, the theater has been a place where voices outside the dominant narrative could be heard. More recently, in the “We See You, White American Theater” declaration, the industry has been urged to stand up to support marginalized people, specifically those directly harmed by European colonization of North America.

Throughout the years, the Wabanaki people have shown their trust in Penobscot Theatre Company by collaborating on the presentation of traditional stories of Penobscot culture, by developing new works and in expanding representation in our community. (Transformer Tales was the first time the Penobscot Language was spoken on the PTC stage, and Molly Spotted Elk, a collaboration with Maulian Dana, will bring Molly’s story to life).

Our solidarity with the Penobscot people and our artistic collaborations reflect our certainty that all northern Maine cultural institutions can only thrive when rural communities of northern Maine, including Wabanaki communities, also thrive.

Since the 1980 Settlement Act, which denied the Wabanaki Alliance the benefits of sovereignty, the Maine Tribes and the State of Maine have been in multiple lawsuits over these injustices. It is time to accord the tribes the rightful standing their federal recognition conveys and that the other 570 federally recognized tribes productively enjoy.

As Maine legislators deliberate, we want to make it clear: We support Wabanaki sovereignty. What the tribes have put up with for 40 years must be resolved fairly without delay, in a unanimous spirit of doing the right thing at last.

Jennifer Shepard

Executive Director

Tricia A. Hobbs

Acting Artistic Director

Penobscot Theatre Company

Bangor