Native Village
Youth and Education news
February 2010 Volume 3

$572,746 grant to help tribe’s genealogy
By Jen Lynds
Condensed by Native Village

Maine: Wesget Sipu is a Micmac term meaning “Fish River People.” Wesget Sipu Inc. is an organization of families who follow the cultural traditions of their Maliseet and Micmac heritage.

One goal of Wesget Sipu Inc. is to preserve the cultural traditions of the Micmac and Maliseet tribes. Recently, it  received a $572,746 grant for a project called “The Preservation of the Ancestral and Cultural Heritage of the Maliseet and Micmac People known as the Wesget Sipu of the St. John Valley, Maine.”
“This project is being put on by our organization and it has three major objectives,” said Marie Danielle Leblanc. Those objectives are:

To trace the genealogies of at least 75% of the Wesget Sipu tribal families. An electronic database of names will be made to help tribal members research their family trees.”

Collect thousands of articles, maps, pictures, letters, pottery and other pieces of Micmac/Maliseet ancestral heritage. Wesget Sipu will work with the Acadian Archives at the University of Maine to preserve these articles.

Pass along their tribal history to the next generation.

Wesget Sipu researchers will travel to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and other regions where their ancestors lived. They will interview tribal elders and visit different archives for information.

“It is so important to us to pass on the traditions of our culture to our youth, and the grant is really going to be very important in helping us do that,” Leblanc said. “We really believe that young people suffer from a lack of identity when they are not exposed to their heritage.  That can lead to a number of problems, and those are problems that we want to combat. We do not want people to lose interest in their heritage.”

Tribal elders will teach youth traditional activities such as making snowshoes, drumming, dancing, basketry, hunting, fishing and medicine plants.  “We have already started doing basketry, and our youth are being shown how to find black ash trees, make the strips, and weave the strips into baskets," Leblanc said. "This month, our elders will be teaching about plant medicines.”

Leblanc said that all activities are open to tribal members and the general community.

“Our hope is that this project will instill pride and a sense of identity for the community and to our Native American people,” she said.

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