A scene from "The Penobscot: Ancestral River, Contested Territory." PHOTO COURTESY OF MEREDITH DEFRANCESCO

Film explores tribe’s right to river

BAR HARBOR — “The Penobscot: Ancestral River, Contested Territory,” a documentary film that illustrates the history of the Penobscot Tribe’s fight to retain their sustenance fishing rights and territory in the Penobscot River from the 1700s to the current day, will be screened at Reel Pizza Cinerama on Sunday, May 29, at 2 p.m.

The 44-minute film will be followed by a discussion with members of the Penobscot Tribe and the Sunlight Media Collective: Dawn Neptune Adams, Kathy Paul and Sherri Mitchell, Penobscot indigenous rights attorney.

Recently nominated for a Boston/New England Emmy Award, “The Penobscot: Ancestral River, Contested Territory,” was produced by the Sunlight Media Collective, a collaboration between Wabanaki and non-Wabanaki media makers.

This screening and talk is sponsored by The Abbe Museum and Earth in Brackets, College of the Atlantic’s environmental/climate group.

“The Penobscot” highlights the currently unfolding story of the controversial and historic case Penobscot Nation v Janet Mills, in which the Maine Attorney General claims the tribe’s territory, which includes more than 200 islands in the Penobscot River, does not include the river itself.

Since this film was completed, in December 2015, U.S. District Court Judge George Singal decided on the case, affirming that the Penobscot Tribe does have sustenance fishing rights in the Penobscot River surrounding their reservation’s islands, but on the issue of the river itself, he sided with the state. Just this past April, the Penobscot Nation and the U.S. Department of Justice filed to appeal the U.S. District Court decision.

“For the Penobscot, this is one of the most important issues facing the tribe today,” said Meredith DeFrancesco, film producer for “The Penobscot,” “not only impacting their territory, but their sovereignty and cultural identity.”

In partnership with the Maine Chapter of the Sierra Club, Reel Pizza offers this environmental film and speaker series free of charge. Visit www.reelpizza.net.

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