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UMaine adds Penobscot language to signs across campus

The Penobscot people lived on Marsh Island in Orono and Old Town, where the University of Maine currently sits.

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine is well known across the county for its academics, athletics, and research achievements. One part of the University of Maine's past that is often forgotten, however, is the history of the land the campus occupies. 

The University is located on Marsh Island in Orono. That area was home to the Penobscot tribe for generations. Now, UMaine is incorporating the rich history of the area into its campus. 

Many signs across campus now feature Penobscot language. 

"That sense of recognition, I think, is a real important step forward," said Darren Ranco, the chair of Native American programs at UMaine.

The news signs come just over a year after the Penobscot Nation and the University of Maine signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May of 2018. That created a greater relationship between the two with access to various historical artifacts and other information. 

"It's awesome to see that relationship develop into something tangible and visible and not just symbolic," said Penobscot Nation Ambassador Maulian Dana. 

There are still many buildings across campus without a Penobscot translation. Organizers hope to install more periodically. 

There's also hope that the signs can create a better dialogue around the school's history and introduce Penobscot culture to those who are unfamiliar with it.

"It would be great to see the rest of the University community respond to that deep cultural history and feel connected to it in a way that Penobscot people do," said Ranco. 

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