Renaming a Park: Letter to Brunswick Town Council

 Durham Friends Letter to the Brunswick Town Council (same text below)

Durham Friends Meeting (Quaker)

532 Quaker Meeting House Road, Durham, MAINE 04222

May 27, 2022

To the Town Councilors of Brunswick,

We write to urge the Town of Brunswick to change the name of its 250th Anniversary Park to Pejepscot Park, and to use the occasion of the renaming to begin telling a truer, more inclusive history of human habitation along the lower Androscoggin River.  

Those signing this letter are residents of Brunswick (11 of us) and residents of adjoining towns (another 22).  We are all members of Durham Friends Meeting, the Quaker Meeting just over the border from Brunswick in Durham.  

We believe that it is important to remember that Indigenous people have lived in this region for thousands of years.  They have fished, hunted, and grew food throughout the Androscoggin watershed. At the site of today’s park, they came seasonally to catch salmon and alewives and others as these fish moved upriver to spawn.  Likely they had an encampment where the park is now sited.  European settlers wanted to make the same use of the fishery, and so they constructed a fort overlooking the lower falls of the Androscoggin, and they built a road from the fort to Maquoit Bay – along a pathway that the Abenaki people portaged their canoes – the same road that is today’s Maine Street and Maquoit Road.  

Because of the importance of this site for both the Abenaki and the European settlers, it is simply not right to call this park by a name suggesting that its history began in 1739.  There are important stories about this human settlement well before that date, and the precise location of this park is especially important in these stories for both the Abenaki and the European settlers.

There is a plaque in the park today that reads “Historic Site: When the Abenaki were the sole inhabitants of this land, the water here was called Ammoscoggin. The word means ‘Fish coming in Spring.’” This is one form of recognition, but we urge additional recognition by renaming the park.  Pejepscot is what the Abenaki called the Androscoggin River below the last falls, the stretch of river for which the park provides a splendid view.  Early maps by Europeans also call this stretch of the river the Pejepscot.  

For these reasons, and in recognition of the complexity of our mutual history with the Abenaki, we respectfully urge you to consider the name Pejepscot Park, a name that honors and raises up the first inhabitants of this area.

                                                      Approved by Durham Friends Meeting,

                                                      At its Business Meeting, April 24, 2022

Contact person: Ingrid Chalufour,

clerk of Durham Friends Meeting’s Peace & Social Concerns Committee

ichalufour@gmail.com, 207-483-2620

Some of the individual members of Durham Friends Meeting are the following, who asked that their signatures be included: 

Residents of Brunswick:

Kim Bolshaw

Ingrid Chalufour

Charlotte Anne Curtis

Craig Freshley

Theresa Hartford

Mey Hasbrook

Linda Muller

Ann Ruthsdottir

Kathy Jo Williams

Cindy Wood

Paul Wood

Residents of Topsham: 

Douglas Bennett

Ellen Bennett

Residents of Auburn

Reneé Coté

Wendy Schlotterbeck

Residents of Bath

Margaret Leitch Copeland 

Leslie Manning

Residents of Bowdoinham

M. Jo-an Jacobus

Residents of Durham

Laurie Caton-Lemos

Ezra Smith

Residents of Freeport

Helen Clarkson

Sarah Sprogell

Residents of Harpswell

Wendy Batson

Robert Eaton

Nancy Marstaller

Residents of Norway

Patti-Ann Douglas 

James R. Douglas 

Residents of Portland

Lyn Clarke

Residents of Richmond

Liana Thompson-Knight

Residents of South Portland

Barbara Simon

Residents of Sumner

Dorothy Hinshaw

Edward Hinshaw

Residents of Yarmouth

Cushing Anthony

Currently residing Out-of-State

Joyce Gibson (Massachusetts)

Brown Lethem (California)