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Monday, April 2, 2012: Jackson Lab, tribal cultures and MDOT ad

Grateful for support

Thank you for your March 22 editorial, “Understanding Jackson Lab’s move to Ellsworth is critical to economic development.” On behalf of The Jackson Laboratory, I would also like to thank the municipal officials in Ellsworth, local and state economic development agencies, Maine legislators, the LePage administration and community members throughout the state for the very enthusiastic support of our plan to purchase the former Lowe’s store in Ellsworth.

We will work with city officials to finalize the necessary zoning changes, and we appreciate the collaborative spirit with which they have approached this opportunity.

We look forward to continued growth in Bar Harbor and Ellsworth.

For more than a decade, Maine state bond funds have helped build the research and development capacity of Maine’s nonprofit research laboratories, strengthened the state’s biomedical industries and expanded the state’s technology employment base. The Jackson Laboratory has been a beneficiary of these state investments, and we are grateful to Maine citizens for their generosity and to Maine policymakers for their vision.

While many states are cutting R&D funding, other states are maintaining or increasing their commitment to research. We believe that steady, predictable investment in the state’s research sector is the only way to ensure the long-term growth and success of an innovation economy in Maine. We think that future investments in Maine’s technology sectors will continue to provide taxpayers with a positive return on investment, an improved state economy and, eventually, a path to prosperity.

Michael E. Hyde

Vice President for Advancement and External Relations

The Jackson Laboratory

Natives need truth

Passover means freedom, Easter means salvation and spring means renewal. As Mainers experience this special time of year, we rejoice in beginning anew. We enjoy many freedoms, voice our opinions and are both seen and heard. Yet, a group remains largely invisible and silent here in Maine — the Wabanaki.

As I learn of the native children who were taken from their tribal homes, placed in U.S. residential schools, then in misguided adoption programs, and recently in Maine foster care, I am saddened by the effects that still encumber those adults today.

Because of U.S. and Maine law, indigenous people are deprived of rejoicing for new beginnings. Because of dominant society’s policies, some natives still cannot speak of their “taking,” which sometimes placed them in physical, psychological and spiritual abuse. Silent and traumatized, some natives still tremble when driving the same road that led to their captivity — ripped from their culture — to “save the child and kill the Indian.”

Because of our historical amnesia, the Wabanaki ask our state to awaken and uncover the truth of a foster care system that has affected the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot. The tribes deserve a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to move forward and prevent the taking from ever happening again.

As we celebrate our freedoms — personal, community, country — let us not forget the indigenous peoples who like the Jewish slaves of Pharaoh’s day are asking, “Let my people go.”

Debby Messer

Bar Harbor

Of language and light

I’d like to respond to Emily Burnham’s March 27 article on the Penobscot Theatre’s premiere production of INK. Writing of playwright Alice Van Buren’s dawning awareness of New England Native cultures, Burnham states “The Native Americans of southern New England may have been wiped out 300 years ago, but their words and history remained — even in something as simple as a street sign.”

In fact, Narragansett, Nipmuc and Wampanoag people have survived despite concerted effort by colonists to wipe them out following King Philip’s War. In fact, the MacArthur Foundation has recognized the language revitalization efforts by Wampanoag linguist, Jessie Little Doe Baird, with a three-year “genius” grant in support of her work.

Bari Newport, artistic director of Penobscot Theatre, and the production’s director, Katharine Kilburn, consulted with staff of the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project to make decisions on how to deal appropriately with aspects of Wampanoag language and culture in the production. They are to be commended for taking this collaborative step.

In the context of the INK performances, Penobscot Theatre is providing opportunities for audiences to consider their connection with Maine native people, and to interact with Penobscot spoken-word artist Nick Bear and Penobscot Nation tribal historian, James Francis. The next not-so-big step will be the production in our local mainstream theater of plays by Native American playwrights — even of Wabanaki playwrights of our region.

Maybe light is dawning in the dawnland!

Margo Lukens

Director of Academic Programs in Innovation Engineering

University of Maine

Let Canadians build it

I find it hard to believe that our governor and Legislature are even considering an east-west highway. Our current roads are in such a state of disrepair and $300,000 would go a long way to help repair so much of the damage already evident. If the Canadians want so much to have this highway through Maine let them build it.

Morris Berry

St. George

More scandal?

Re: the Maine DOT’s Islesboro “spoof” ad recently published in the BDN: Is this what we the taxpayers are paying for? It’s time for an investigation and audit of the Maine DOT. Could this be another Maine Turnpike Authority scandal or similar to the controversy surrounding the Maine Housing Authority?

Inquiring taxpayers want to know!

Ed Kokoszka


Hope in an awakening

Rev. Roger E. Tracy’s Op-Ed column (“When God was in school and state,” BDN, March 28) was well-balancing of Shawn Faircloth’s earlier Op-Ed column heralding the separation of church and state, and reminds us all of the need and power of some spiritual authority in our public as well as private lives.

Unfortunately, civilization does not march backward to the same good, old days of prayer and Bible reading in the formative years in school. The on-rushing tide of immigrating religions and philosophies via electronic media (including TV’s long-thought corrupting influence on children and adults) cannot be resisted, let alone turned back.

So what hope have we of re-establishing spiritual authority in societal law and order? Organized religion has failed to do so all around the world.

Can we hope for some external force such as extraterrestrials or Jesus’ descent from “the clouds of heaven with power and great glory?” We have waited long enough for those quick, simple, hopeful solutions to do it for us.

Maybe the solution is to stop hoping for mythical, external solutions and for all of us to point to each other’s inner evolution of conscience (involution) collectively, and to find some hope in our great successes in greatly reducing racism, communism, dictatorships, public health ignorance and neglect, cruelty to animals and environments, etc.

There is hope in our mass awakening of conscience.

Beverly Scully


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