They will forget their old laws; they will barter their country for baubels. Then will disease eat the life from their blood. (Hanisse’ono, The Evil One, from Iroquois legend)
Passamaquoddy Bay, Split Rock emerges from the beach a short walk from Sipayik, the Passamaquoddy village at Pleasant Point, Maine. It is small, nondescript, and has little if any intrinsic value. Yet Split Rock became the symbol for a bitter and vital struggle for control of the Quoddy Region; a struggle that may yet fundamentally change an ecosystem that is one of the most valuable along the eastern seaboard.
Targeted as the site for a proposed LNG terminal by Quoddy Bay LLC, a development company from Oklahoma, the social and spiritual importance of Split Rock spurred the creation of Nulankeyutomenon Nkihtahkomikmon (We Take Care of Our Land), a group composed of concerned Passamaquoddy tribal members from both the United States and Canada.
Driven by a threat to their heritage and future, members of Nulankeyutomenon Nkihtahkomikmonhave successfully mounted legal challenges to the establishment of the LNG terminal at Split Rock and, in the process, the public at large has come to learn about the significance of this special spiritual place. We now know that it is used for the Full Moon Ceremony, Whale Ceremony, Tobacco Ceremony, Canoe Launching Ceremonies, weddings, baptisms, gathering of sacred sweet grass, teaching walks, bathing, spreading of ashes from the deceased, community gatherings, the annual Indian Day Festival, as well as physical and spiritual retreat at Grandmother’s Bed. Endangered and threatened species such as eagles, porpoise, and whales that occur in the Split Rock area are integral to special rites and ceremonies.
For many Passamaquoddy, Split Rock, a small and seemingly insignificant rock outcrop, is the gateway to the place where their souls live.
While the threat from Quoddy Bay LLC seems to be gone, two other developers are proposing terminals along the Maine shore of Passamaquoddy Bay and thousands of individuals have joined together to prevent these LNG developments from destroying the special character of the Quoddy area. Americans, Canadians, and Passamaquoddy have formed an ad hoc organization called Save Passamaquoddy Bay – A Three Nation Alliance. Working together, these concerned citizens strive to maintain and develop a truly sustainable future based on the natural assets of this important place.
As the battle has progressed, the challenge has forced all Quoddy citizens to examine their values, to more acutely consider what it is that they value about this special place, to consider why they or their ancestors settled here in the first place, and to determine what holds them today. Many now know that the values espoused by the Passamaquoddy in defence of Split Rock reflect the true values of everyone around the Quoddy Region.
Split Rock is the symbol of the Quoddy Region. It represents both the spiritual and real value of Quoddy.
Art MacKay, Bocabec, NB. First written March 26, 2006, Updated November 2010, January 6, 2012.