BUCKSPORT, Maine — Sunday morning, members of the Penobscot Nation hosted an inter-tribal water ceremony at Verona Island Boat Landing, for the health of the Penobscot River.
"The river is our relative and of course we have a familial relationship and a responsibility to care for the water and for the Penobscot River. Taking care of our relatives not only human relatives but relatives such as the Penobscot River is an indigenous thing, it's what we do," says Penobscot Nation Member Dawn Neptune Adams.
People were encouraged to bring signs and banners. The event was also broadcasted live on Facebook for those who could not join in person.
This was a celebration connected to Indigenous Peoples' Day, organized by members of the Penobscot nation, Racial Equity & Justice, and Sunlight Media Collective.
“The water is our first medicine and everyone needs water so this is everybody’s issue. Everybody should show up for the water, for Penobscot Nation, and for ourselves," says a member of Racial Equity and Justice.
"I have lived on Indian Island most of my life and not once did I think that I would lose sleep over what is happening to our precious water. As many of you know, or do not know, Juniper Ridge Landfill dumps 1.3 million gallons of inadequately-treated leachate into the Penobscot River monthly, through the Nine Dragons Paper Mill Treatment Plant in Old Town," says Penobscot member Kathy Paul.
Kathy Paul told NEWS CENTER Maine they hope other people who live on the banks on the Penobscot River will rise up and let the state know that the Penobscot River is not a dumping ground.
"Even though we are here in honor of indigenous people, it honors indigenous peoples' day and for the water. This is to benefit all living things within this watershed and so hopefully collectively we can come together and hear what's right for the river, and for the people and the environment all at once," says Nickie Sekera, co-founder of community water justice.
NEWS CENTER Maine reached out to the Juniper Ridge Landfill for comment. A representative said the leachate water goes through a treating system and that they were going to send us more information about how it treats leachate waters.