A collaboration among four Native American tribes and Colby, Bates and Bowdoin colleges was launched this fall to enhance the college students’ knowledge about the Wabanaki peoples and to increase college aspirations among native youth in the Wabanaki Confederacy, which includes Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Micmac communities.
The project, Working to Build Bridges to Communities, uses the acronym WBBC, which also represents initials of the four partners. The initial component, Early College Awareness, is planned for February and March, with teams of four to six students from each college visiting the native communities in northern and eastern Maine. The college students will be guests of the Wabanakis, learning about native culture and working with fourth through eighth graders.
The three colleges recruited students in November to participate in a training session December 1 and another workshop in February. The Colby team is scheduled to visit five sites March 23-28, during Spring Break.
Additional initiatives under consideration include a summer program for native students to visit the college campuses and efforts to ensure that campus climates are welcoming to native youth.