Michael Shaughnessy, president and co-founder of the Friends of the Presumpscot River, takes part in a smudging rally led by Mihku Paul, right, at Chief Polin Memorial in Westbrook on Monday morning. The ceremony took place on the occasion of the annual Indigenous Peoples Day.
The sunrise gathering included a walk to the top of Saccarappa Falls along the Presumpscot River. Saccarappa is Wabenaki to fall towards the rising sun.
Mihku Paul, a writer and activist from Portland, leads a smear and burn weeds. Cleansing is a way to recognize the significance of an event and enter into prayer, Paul says.
Vivianna Adams carries her daughter Lennox Lurvey, 5, as they take part in a smudge ceremony led by Mihku Paul. Paul burned white sage, sweetgrass, and pine needles in a conch shell.
The Presumpscot River was an important fishing area for Indigenous peoples, and this was recognized at the event.
Saco’s Meret Bainbridge reaches out into the water at the top of Saccarappa Falls.
Mihku Paul says that the smoke from the stain is a way to reach the ancestors.
Mihku Paul greeted the sun: “Hello. It’s a beautiful day.”
A prayer and song of welcome was led by Mihku Paul during Monday’s celebration.
The second annual Indigenous Peoples Day event ended at the river. Chief Polin’s Memorial, where the gathering began, is dedicated to the Abenaki chief who was a powerful leader and defender of the river.
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