The one-time chief of the Penobscot Indian Nation and tribal elder Barry Dana, of Solon, will be the guest speaker Sunday at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Waterville.
The event, initiated by church member and Sunday’s worship leader Iver Lofving, of Skowhegan, will focus on the “native perspective on the earth and the human relationship with her,” Dana said Thursday via social media.
“A descendant of this land’s original people, Barry Dana works to educate all peoples about Native struggles of long ago that are still alive today,” Lofving added. “He will share his perspective on contemporary issues facing Native people and all peoples of this planet.”
Dana, 59, said he is concerned with the “human behaviors of stewardship as asked of us at the time of creation — are we living up to those requests?”
He said the wise words of “leave no trace” when one visits nature are fine for the many parks and trails in Maine and elsewhere, but what is the effect on the planet of how people get to the trails and how they live their lives the rest of the week?
“So … how do the old words of wisdom assist us today?” he said, noting that it depends on who’s listening.
“Native people are turning a deaf ear to nature, … as is most of mainstream society,” he said. “I, as one person knowing those old words, try to bring them into every day living, be it with my choice of heating, travel, food (or) recreation.
“I walk what’s called the Red Road — thinking native. I’ll talk about how I go about living those old values in the new day and thriving as a result.”
Lofving said the Waterville church is a designated “green sanctuary.” It had to meet strict guidelines for recycling and cutting energy use by separating sections of the church, putting in a new heating system and insulating the building.
“The UU Church accepts all denominations, and we’re very concerned about things like climate change; and as a green sanctuary, we’re twice as efficient as we used to be,” Lofving said. “We don’t have a formal preacher or minister anymore, so we each come up with something every week. I’m in the social concerns group. Once a month we come up with a sermon. Barry Dana is very environmentally conscious and he lives what he teaches. (The Penobscots) grow a lot of their own food, and they live a life that doesn’t use as much as most people.”
Dana has been active in safeguarding Native American water rights along the Penobscot River and has spoken to students about respect for people by not using American Indian images and nicknames for sports teams, as has his daughter, Maulian Dana, the official ambassador of the Penobscot Nation.
“They have put themselves on the line fighting for clean air and clean water in Maine,” Lofving said.
Dana was a guest speaker last January at the church, when he spoke of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which, with allies from other tribes and advocates, had been camped out for months in North Dakota to try to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367