Passamaquoddy, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
Join us as we travel the distant and fascinating lands of Indian Country. This download was originally aired nationally as a public radio program titled Oyate Ta Olowan--The Songs of the People during the 90s. Each Oyate download includes the 30 minute program plus the full length songs featured during the program.
See the longer description below to hear a short clip of this show and to read for a full account of our journey to meet Maggie.
Oyate Ta Olowan was produced by Milt and Jamie Lee with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series was aired nationally by Public Radio International.
Maggie Paul, Passamaquoddy,
from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
Maggie Paul was a surprise gift in so many ways. After traveling two days from New York up through Maine, we crossed the border into Canada and parked our weary bodies into one more hotel. Maggie met us wearing a pair of comfortable sweat pants and a red T-shirt and looking like somebody's favored auntie—until she opened her mouth to sing. There is something about Maggie that is so light and spirited you think she might just float away, pulled up by the fine strands of the creator’s web.
New Brunswick is not Maggie’s homeland. The Passamaquoddy people are located in Maine on Passamaquoddy Bay. She moved north when she married and now lives on St. Mary’s Reserve in Fredericton. She is married to Stanley Paul and has five children and eight grandchildren. Her mother, who has passed away, raised Maggie and her brothers and sisters alone, supporting them by braiding sweetgrass for a living.
The woodlands and waters of the area provided an abundant and healthy diet to the original Passamaquoddy. In summers, they fished the coastal waters and gathered what they needed from nature. During the winter months the tribe would move inland to the forests. They became great craftspeople, known for their jewelry, baskets, woodcarving and canoes. They lived in wigwams, which were dome shaped houses built with saplings, bark, and rushes with woven mats for the interior and doors.
We later met Maggie at a 5 day ceremony in Mexico where we got to spend several days dancing and participating in a rare renewal of the earth ceremony.
Maggie helped us launch the Oyate series at a big party in Minneapolis. Here she is on KFAI inviting the world to come.