735 acres of ancestral land returned to Penobscot Nation

ORONO, Maine (AP) — The private foundation that donated land for the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine has returned 735 acres of ancestral land to the Penobscot Nation, officials said Friday.

The land transferred from Elliotsville Foundation is located to the west of the town of Brownsville in Piscataquis County, in between two parcels of land already owned by Penobscots.

The land includes the headwaters of the Pleasant River, a tributary to the Penobscot River, which is sacred to the tribe.

“We take our land stewardship responsibilities very seriously and appreciate the opportunity to once again have this parcel within our present-day land holdings,” Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis said in a statement.

The gift will create a contiguous bloc of over 5,000 acres, said John Banks, the tribe’s natural resources director.

Elliotsville Foundation was created by the family of Roxanne Quimby, a conservationist and founder of Burt’s Bees.

Her son, Lucas St. Clair, said he wanted to use his platform to work for justice for indigenous communities in Maine.

“While this is not the start or the end of a long journey of reparation, it is what I can do now and what I hope to do more of while encouraging others to join us,” he said Friday.

The Quimby Family, Elliotsville Foundation and 50 land trusts and other land-holding groups have joined together in First Light, an effort to learn the history of Wabanaki land and to work to restore ancestral lands.

“This is just the beginning of long work at making amends in real ways,” said Peter Forbes from First Light.

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