The Penobscot Nation made a bid for tribal sovereignty in 1833. Tribal leaders traveled to Boston, which had power over Maine land at the time, to meet with state politicians. In her book “The Name of War,” historian Jill Lepore said, “The Penobscots’ claims were largely ignored, but while the delegation was spurned at the State House, it was welcomed in the theater district.
Before he became the second governor of Massachusetts, and before his son named a college after him, James Bowdoin II was a financial magnate who started a war so he could steal Wabanaki land. In this reading of his life, Bowdoin was not just complicit in continuing what Penobscot scholar Donald Soctomah refers to as “the world’s largest genocide”—he and his business partners, supported by the British military, provoked a deadly war against Wabanaki people.
We were far up the tree, so far above the ground and so quiet. The two of us had started to scale that tree—a massive birch that overlooks the garden plots. I had tapped out fifteen feet off the ground, but my climbing companion clambered up another twenty feet over my head.
Though I read last week’s Bowdoin Student Government minutes, I’m not going to write about the Board of Trustees. I’m also not going to comment on the one to two percent of our endowment invested in oil and gas companies, which, if you do the math, means that Bowdoin invests between 25 and 50 million dollars in the world’s foremost fossil fuel giants.
We are obsessed with growth. It was pointed out to me last week how normal it feels to hear about a 57 percent return rate on Bowdoin’s endowment, which pushed the number up into something astronomical for an institution of our size.
A chipmunk is stuck in the greenhouse; I must’ve surprised it when I wandered through yesterday. I left the door open so they could find their way out, and upon opening the door, I saw one of the garden’s human neighbors taking a pleasant stroll through the rows.