Tribe holds recognition day

HOULTON, Maine — A cold, rainy day kept most celebrants away from outdoor events, but the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians held its 39th annual Recognition Day on Saturday nonetheless.

Events kicked off on Friday with a sweat lodge and a potluck dinner on tribal grounds on the Bell Road in Littleton.

On Saturday, tribal members gathered for a sunrise ceremony, followed by an opening ceremony and drumming and dancing.

Approximately 60 tribal members from both the United States and Canada took part in the opening ceremony.

The event saw a flow of attendees at other events throughout the day, with members enjoying food, games, vendors and more. Pony rides and team sports took place in the afternoon, followed by a community supper that ended the events.

Clarissa Sabattis, chief of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, said on Saturday that she was thankful to all of those who came out despite the weather.

I’m so thankful for all who worked so hard to make today happen,” she said. “For the drummers and dancers and everyone who bundled up to come celebrate. We made the best of a chilly day.”

During the morning, the crowd gathered under the gazebo at Recognition Field as the drumming and dancing took place.

Head dancers for the event were Aaron Dana and Tawoma Martinez. Head youth dancers were Wambli Martinez and Sipsis Paul.

Recognition Day is held each year to commemorate the anniversary of HBMI becoming a federally recognized tribe. On Oct. 10, 1980, the federal government officially recognized the Houlton Band of Maliseets as a Native American tribe.

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