Keynote Speaker: Lisa Brooks

By Robert Drinkwater

On Friday, September 27th, Dr. Lisa Brooks visited UMF as a keynote speaker for UMF’s New Commons project The Canoe. Dr. Brooks is a professor of English and American studies at Amherst College. She is of Abenaki and Polish heritage and she has written several essays and books. This isn’t Dr. Brook’s first time here at UMF either. She visited a few years ago as a Libra scholar in 2012. For this event Dr. Brooks talked about the Wabanaki tribe and how this land in western Maine is their land. The event started off with our own professor of English, Kristen Case as she listed off the upcoming New Commons events coming up as well as introduce Dr. Brooks as she began her presentation.

Dr. Brooks started the presentation by showing us a map of land that the Wabanaki once inhabited. New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, part of Quebec, and Nova Scotia were once Wabanaki lands. Throughout the presentation Dr. Brooks shared her knowledge of this group of natives. The Wabanaki used canoes to travel down rivers because it was a faster way of traveling. These canoes could contain up to twelve people. Brooks also shared a poem by writer, Cheryl Savageau, who is also of Abenaki heritage, who will be giving a poetry reading on October 16th, from 11:45am-1:00pm. As a student living in Maine, I’ve never really thought about the culture of the indigenous people who once resided on this land. Who had their own culture, history, and traditions. I found myself fascinated with the language as Dr. Brooks began her presentation speaking in the language of the Wabanaki. The Wabanaki tribes have three different languages: Abenaki-Penobscot that is spoken, Maliseet-Passamaquoddy, and Mi’maq. I learned a lot of insight about this group of natives, as I don’t often think about who resided here before the colonists came here.

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