Last April, Governor Mills signed into law a bill changing the name of the holiday known as Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, in recognition of the native people who resided in Maine and across the continent before Europeans’ arrival. Maine joins many other states in making this change. Read about the enactment of this law here.
As a New Gloucester resident for nearly 40 years, and a descendent of one of the families who lived in the Blockhouse, I believe this change is important. The Gloucester (MA) residents who laid claim to New Gloucester under a grant from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the mid-1700’s saw the Abnaki people who dwelled here as “savages.” In their view, the native people impeded their goal to establish farms, a church and community to support their families as available land further south in Massachusetts coastal communities became scarce. This was happening in the towns around us as well: Gray was New Boston, Raymond was New Beverly and Windham, New Marblehead. It’s important to recognize that the history of people’s occupation of this beautiful place reaches back more than ten thousand years.