Return means reversing the takings of the past. Return means going forward to a better future by working together. Return means recognizing Wabanaki sovereignty, and shifting systems to include Wabanaki decision-making, authority, and voice. We return to relationships, we return land, we redistribute money, and we ensure safe, practical, culturally appropriate access to land in as many ways as possible.

First Light recognizes that Maine is first a Wabanaki place and we are facilitating projects to return land and wealth by partnering with the Wabanaki Commission and the many organizations in our community. 

Stories of Land Return

  • 5 Communities

    We work with five Wabanaki tribal communities. Requests from Chiefs and Tribal councils are our top priority, as well as requests from the Wabanaki Commission and Wabanaki nonprofits.

  • 20+ Projects

    First Light, our Community, and the Wabanaki Commission are collectively working on over 20 efforts toward land return this year.

  • 40,000+ Acres

    The Wabanaki Commission and First Light are working to make over 40,000 acres more accessible to Wabanaki communities.

Our Collective Land Return Process

The First Light community recognizes that Maine is first a Wabanaki landscape and we are helping facilitate projects to return land to Wabanaki ownership. To respect and honor the collective role of the Wabanaki Commission, the First Light community does not make assumptions or decisions about what land is important, or which Tribe or Wabanaki organization should own a given parcel.

Are you interested in return? Your land is part of this Wabanaki place. What are you – as an individual or land-owning organization – able to offer?  Is a parcel being offered outright for unencumbered ownership by a Tribal Nation? Is it for sale? Are you offering rights of access?

If a parcel becomes a candidate for return, purchase, or access by a Wabanaki community or NGO, First Light can help prepare an offer for the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship.  That process begins by engaging the Tribal Land Recovery Manager who brings all potential land returns to the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship for their direction. 

Principles of the process:

Land recovery requests from Chiefs and Tribal councils are the top priority, then from the Wabanaki Commission, then from Wabanaki nonprofits, then from the First Light community, and then from the general public. This process values respecting the Wabanaki culture of sharing ideas, learning, speaking, and deciding together, and centering the Wabanaki Commission.

Respecting the Wabanaki culture of deciding together

With appointed representatives from five Wabanaki communities in Maine, the Commission creates a collective voice around each land return. This broad representation also creates a space for equity and understanding between Tribes.

Centering the Wabanaki Commission

Honoring the Commission's role as a representative body building Wabanaki voice for the role of land and kinship in Wabanaki communities.

Have land to offer?

If you have land to offer, please reach out to our Tribal Land Recovery Manager Brett Ciccotelli to start the conversation.

Our Wealth Redistribution Process

We are working with the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship to develop a Wolankeyutomone kisi apaciyewik, "Let us take good care of what is returned" Fund, which raises money from non-native contributors. The purpose of the fund is to repair, rebuild and sustain Wabanaki relationship, kinship, and access to place and to directly help Wabanaki people and institutions to fulfill their care-taking responsibilities for the lands and waters of Maine. 

Learn all about the Fund.

Listen to the pronunciation of Wolankeyutomone kisi apaciyewik.

Organizations can learn more and set up sustained contributions by contacting our Development Manager, or making an online contribution

What does Wabanaki stewardship look like?

We’re relearning what land looks like when it's cared for by Wabanaki communities.

Wabanaki land stewardship helps us all remember that the work of caring for the earth and recovering land is not new to this moment, but a role carried forward.

Read about examples of Wabanaki stewardship of land.

Have funds to share?

Organizations can learn more and set up sustained contributions by reaching out to our Development Manager or make an online contribution.