In northern Maine, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs has for decades been trying to protect important tribal cultural resources, including traditional foods, from pollution. And warming temperatures are expected to further that threat. But the Micmacs and other Maine tribes are taking steps to adapt.
In a tiny studio nestled in his backyard near Houlton, Richard Silliboy gathers, splits and weaves together long thin pieces of ash that will eventually form a basket. The vice chief of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Silliboy says he learned the art as a child from his mother, who’d craft up to 120 baskets a week that were used by workers in the nearby potato fields.
As he sits and weaves, Silliboy describes the practice as spiritual and part of the tribe’s creation story.