Committed to His Native Roots: Soctomah to Be Honored for Contributions

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Executive Director Hayden Anderson was interviewed for an article in Indian Country Today highlighting Donald Soctomah, 2015 recipient of the Constance H. Carlson Prize. This is the Maine Humanities Council’s highest honor, and is awarded to an individual, institution, or group in recognition of exemplary contributions to public humanities in Maine.

Donald Soctomah Donald Soctomah rows a birch bark canoe with his son, also named Donald. The canoe was built based on a 21-foot Passamaquoddy canoe dating from 1850.

Photograph courtesy of Donald Soctomah. 
Donald Soctomah rows a birch bark canoe with his son, also named Donald. The canoe was built based on a 21-foot Passamaquoddy canoe dating from 1850.

Here is an excerpt from Alysa Landry’s article

“The way Donald Soctomah tells it, he was just doing his job.

The 59-year-old Passamaquoddy man has spent his life working to preserve the language, history, culture and land base of this small tribe located near the Atlantic coast of Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. From a career in forestry to eight years in the state legislature, Soctomah is known for his commitment to his Native roots and the future of Maine’s indigenous population.

Soctomah has also produced historical and children’s books, films, compilations of tribal music and interactive educational material. Called “the most recognized member of the Passamaquoddy tribe,” Soctomah also made an appearance on the PBS reality show “Colonial House,” which premiered in 2004 and was filmed on Passamaquoddy land.

Although his work, at times, is highly visible, Soctomah tends to stay out of the limelight.

“I’m just doing my job,” he said. “I’m just doing what needs to be done.”

The Maine Humanities Council has a different perspective. During a ceremony March 30, the council will award Soctomah its highest honor, the Constance H. Carlson Prize, for his “exemplary contributions to public humanities in Maine.”

Named after the first female president of a University of Maine System campus, the Constance H. Carlson Prize was first awarded in 1998. Soctomah is the sixth person to receive the honor—and the first Native, said Hayden Anderson, executive director of the Maine Humanities Council.”

Read the full article.