HOULTON, Maine — With funding now available, officials with the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians announced on Wednesday that they would set about creating plans for a tribal cemetery.
Brenda Commander, chief of the Houlton band, said that the tribe has secured a $94,968 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families/Administration for Native Americans. The funding will be used to create a plan for the cemetery over a year long period.
It is something that tribal members have been thinking of for some time, according to Commander, but the goal was officially documented in 1999. At that time, a survey found that 83 percent of the tribal community wanted to make creating burial grounds on tribal land a priority due to its cultural and historical significance.
The grant will help the tribe develop a cemetery operations plan composed of a site development plan, an operations and maintenance plan and burial ordinances.
Commander said that the tribe is partnering with the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center from the University of Maine on the project. Officials from the center will assist the tribe in the development of a questionnaire designed to solicit the community’s input on the various plans and ordinances that need to be drafted.
Tribe also is partnering with Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Mass., and its Indian Law and Indigenous Peoples Clinic for legal assistance. Law students from the clinic help serve the legal needs of tribal governments, courts and individuals located in New England, according to its website.
The Maliseet tribe has some 800 members. Work on the plan will begin in the near future.