The Nao Santa Maria tall ship, modeled after the ship that Christopher Columbus sailed, will be staying in Castine. Credit: Courtesy of Penobscot Maritime Heritage Association

The Nao Santa Maria tall ship, modeled after the ship that Christopher Columbus sailed, will be staying in Castine for five more days.

Event organizers announced on Tuesday that the ship would stay docked in Castine until Sunday and would continue to offer tours until it departs.

The ship’s inclusion in Maine’s bicentennial celebrations was met with criticism from members of Maine’s Indigenous communities.

The replica ship’s presence in Maine prompted Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation’s tribal ambassador, to speak out on Facebook, where she called its presence a disappointment, and noted how offensive it would be to the Indigenous community to host a ship that represented Columbus’ role in colonization of the Americas.

A historical reevaluation of Columbus in recent years has led many U.S. jurisdictions to replace Columbus Day — traditionally held on the second Monday of October — with Indigenous People’s Day. Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, signed a law renaming the holiday in 2019 as part of an effort to repair Maine’s relationship with tribes.

State Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, chair of the state’s bicentennial commission, also said that the ship’s presence was not endorsed by the bicentennial planning committee.

The ship had been scheduled to appear in Bangor for the entire week of July 12. Following the outcry, the ship’s visit was canceled on July 9.

However, the decision was reversed on July 11 in what organizer Dick Campbell, a former Republican state legislator from Orrington, called a “joint decision”. The town of Bucksport was not involved in the decision to host the ship.

After organizers announced that the ship would stay docked in Bucksport, members of the Penobscot Nation, along with community members from the Bangor region, gathered at a rally on the Bangor waterfront on July 12 to protest the ship.

The Sunlight Media Collective, a tribal rights organization, also showed the film “The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code,” at the rally, which is a documentary that discusses the impact of colonization from an indigenous perspective.

The ship then moved to Castine on July 14, where it continued to provide tours.

Dawn Neptune Adams, a Penobscot, noted that members of the Penobscot Tribe discovered the Nao Santa Maria replica was part of the state’s bicentennial celebration on the same day members learned that the federal appellate court in Boston had rejected its appeal over whether its boundaries extended to the waters of the Penobscot River near its reservation lands.

Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is a journalism and anthropology student at the University of Maine, and will graduate in May. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley and staying active in the Maine...