Pine Tree Legal Assistance acknowledges and celebrates November as Native American Heritage Month. The work of our Indigenous Peoples Unit is fundamental to our work as a program. The following excerpt from the White House Proclamation speaks to the importance of honoring Native American Heritage Month.

“During National Native American Heritage Month, we celebrate Indigenous peoples past and present and rededicate ourselves to honoring Tribal sovereignty, promoting Tribal self-determination, and upholding the United States’ solemn trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations.

America has not always delivered on its promise of equal dignity and respect for Native Americans. For centuries, broken treaties, dispossession of ancestral lands, and policies of assimilation and termination sought to decimate Native populations and their ways of life. But despite this painful history, Indigenous peoples, their governments, and their communities have persevered and flourished. As teachers and scholars, scientists and doctors, writers and artists, business leaders and elected officials, heroes in uniform, and so much more, they have made immeasurable contributions to our country’s progress.”

--Excerpt, White House Proclamation on Native American History Month

Read the full White House Proclamation on National Native American Heritage Month 2022 here.

Native Americans continue to contribute to the development of American law, and many Native organizations place emphasis on the importance of recognizing this contribution. Primary sources of American Indian and Tribal law offer important context to past and present social, political, and legal issues faced by Native American communities. We welcome you to explore the following resources that shed light on Native American legal history.

Indigenous peoples of this area: Ckuwaponakiyik (Wabanaki).

Ckuwaponakiyik, which roughly translated in the English language is ‘The People from the place where the sun first looks our way,’ or as a shortened equivalent, Dawnland.

Wabanaki people have lived here (i.e., the Canadian Martimes, Québec, and the Northeastern United States) since time immemorial. For the modern Wabanaki Tribes on both sides of the border, there are ancestors and funerary objects that have been found throughout the region dating back at least 25,000 years.

There are many ways to honor and celebrate Native people. Our Pine Tree Legal staff suggest you start a deeper dive by visiting these resources:

  • Watch and learn about current issues impacting Wabanaki people from Sunlight Media Collective.
  • Read a book by a Wabanaki or New England Indigenous author. Here’s one great place to start.
  • Visit the Wabanaki REACH website and learn about/support their good work
  • Listen to an episode of Dawnland Signals by Wabanaki REACH
  • Read 'An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States' – by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
  • Watch and learn from the 2022 Wabanaki Voices Speaker Series at the Skowhegan History House
  • Learn about and support a #landback movement in Maine, the Bomazeen Land Trust.
  • Read this article for information about the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act.

Additionally, you can visit Penobscot Culture and the Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Language Portal to view additional language and cultural resources.

News Center Maine recently interviewed Wabanaki knowledge keepers and political figures from Penobscot Nation, Donna Loring, Darren Ranco, and Maria Girouard about the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act. Watch the video below to learn more!

If you are interested in learning more about Indigenous Peoples around the world or want to read about the United States’s treatment of Indigenous Peoples from a less US-based perspective, please visit:


Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce the creation of the Nan Heald Black Fly Fellowship, a new initiative to increase access to free civil legal aid in Western Maine. 

The Nan Heald Black Fly Fellowship will begin as paid fellowship for a summer law student to work at Pine Tree Legal Assistance serving Franklin County, where Nan was from. The project name is a nod to an editorial from the 1970s which described Pine Tree as a “defender of low income people which has burgeoned in Maine and become almost as omnipresent as black flies in June.” 

We expect the Fellowship to launch in 2023. The fellow will work on a combination of substantive legal work and community outreach, including building better relationships with community partners. The fellow’s legal work will focus on housing, public benefits, and family law and victims’ rights. The goal of the fellowship is to increase access to free civil legal aid in Western Maine.

Support the Nan Heald Black Fly Fellowship

As we raise more funds, we hope to expand this project and have a greater impact. Your donation will help grow the fund and help us expand our work in Western Maine.

Donations can be mailed to:

Pine Tree Legal Assistance

Attn: Nan Heald Black Fly Fellowship

P.O. Box 547,

Portland, ME 04112

By clicking the link below, you will be prompted to the Nan Heald Black Fly Fellowship donation page where you can make a donation today in honor of Nan.

Donate Today!

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