Wescustogo Treks

Royal River Conservation Trust is pleased to unveil a series of three Wabanaki-led treks, intended for indigenous and non-indigenous people alike, designed to explore and acknowledge the rich history of Native American culture along the Royal River (Wescustogo) and in Maine as a whole.

Each trek will be led by RRCT Native American Intern Natalie Waloven (pictured), along with Maine Master Naturalist Polly Haight Frawley.

Wescustogo is a term of Wabanaki tribes for what we now call the Royal River. The Wabanaki and their predecessors lived in this area for thousands of years, before colonization. Wescustogo, perhaps meaning “muddy-” and “channeled-” or “gullied river” might refer only to the mouth of the river (the estuary), or might refer to the entire river. Rivers continue today to have profound cultural significance for the Wabanaki.

Qey, ntoliwis Mahqan naka Wolastoqew nil Neqotkukew. Hello, my name is Natalie, or Mahqan, and I am a Maliseet Native American of Tobique First Nation. While the Maliseets did not historically live in this region of Maine, they were part of the Wabanaki Confederacy, which included the people of this area. I am a lifelong Yarmouth resident, now in my senior year at Yarmouth High School. I am passionate about recognizing the indigenous heritage of this land. It is my belief that if we cannot change a gruesome past, we must at least recognize and educate ourselves on it. In this same way, we must acknowledge the present issues, which often are under-represented.

“I prefer to be known as indigenous, Native American, Maliseet, or Wolastoqew, in range of specificity. When I was born, my grandmother gave me the spirit name of Mahqan, meaning sweet like maple syrup.”

Polly’s focus on Wabanaki ethnobotany includes identification of plants and trees, and an awareness of how Wabanaki peoples use them for tea, poultice, and other purposes.

Maine Audubon is providing mentorship and coaching for this series of events.

Trek #1 of 3: March 23, 2024 (Saturday), at 10:00 am at Spear Farm Estuary Preserve on the Royal River (Wescustogo) in Yarmouth. This is one of several events this year celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the conservation of this beloved local preserve. Meet at the preserve’s trailhead, on Bayview Street, with outdoor clothes appropriate for the weather. Attendance will be limited, so please RSVP in advance using the form below.

We are not yet accepting reservations for Treks #2 and #3 (in Gray on April 20th, and in New Gloucester on May 4th). Please return for reservations for Treks #2 and #3 after the March event.