PORTLAND, ME August 30, 2021Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D) today announced its September 2 release of the Salt Institute-created podcast, Sovereign. Created as a four-part series with episodes coming out each Thursday, Salt graduate students dive deep into the complex nature of native tribe rights in the state of Maine. 

Hayley Emmons, Sovereign, 2021.

Maine has restricted the rights of tribes within its borders more than any other state. In fact, Maine is the only state in which tribes are not considered nations within a nation. The tribes in Maine agreed to this 40 years ago when they signed a deal that surrendered a huge amount of power in exchange for money and land. Today, tribes in Maine are fighting for new laws that would restore their powers of sovereignty, and they are experiencing push back from Maine state politicians and town officials.


“The students chose this focus for the summer program because they  felt the importance of telling this timely story,” explains Salt Institute in Documentary Studies Director Isaac Kestenbaum Salt ’08. “What resulted from this project is really eye-opening, and we believe it will have a lasting impact.


The team of accomplished mid-career audio producers—including Sanam Skelly, Sarena Snider, Sarah Esocoff, and Matthew Brown—conducted in-depth interviews and on-the-ground reporting under the guidance of award-winning veteran NPR reporter and co-creator of Planet Money Robert Smith. With the oversight and technical support by Kestenbaum as well as the advice and editorial counsel from Maulian Dana, the Penobscot Nation Ambassador, the podcasts bring listeners through the deep history of the Wabanaki people to the courtrooms of 1980s Maine to the present day struggle for sovereignty on reservations throughout the state. 


“At Maine College of Art & Design, we believe in giving our students and alumni chances for their work to be seen,” explained Araminta Matthews, Associate Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies. “We are delighted to share with the world this podcast series, which was developed with the utmost rigor and care from both a technical and storytelling perspective. Sovereign is a fantastic demonstration of what our students have to offer and brings an important dialogue to the forefront of our community’s discourse.”


Sovereign is sponsored by Bangor Savings Bank and will be available everywhere you get your podcasts. Listen to the trailer here. The first two episodes are available to the media under embargo.

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Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D, pronounced "Maine College of Art and Design”) has been activating students of all pursuits to make art, make an impact, and inspire change since its founding as Portland School of Art in 1882. Located in Portland's thriving Arts District, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, 24-hour-a-day studios, a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and a community-based Artists at Work program—making MECA&D the right-sized school in the right-sized city for every student who wants to make their mark and be seen. MECA&D offers BFA Majors and Minors, Graduate Programs, Continuing Studies, Pre-College, and includes the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and the Institute for Contemporary Art. Follow us at @mecaart.


Bangor Savings Bank, with more than $6 billion in assets, offers retail banking to consumers as well as comprehensive commercial, corporate, payroll administration, merchant services, and small business banking services to businesses. The Bank, founded in 1852, is in its 169th year with more than 60 branches in Maine and New Hampshire and business and/or loan production offices in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Bangor Savings Bank and The Bangor Savings Bank Foundation have invested more than $3.4 million into the community in the form of sponsorships, grants, and partnership initiatives last year. Bangor Savings Bank is an equal opportunity employer and can be found on the Web at www.bangor.com. Member FDIC.