Passamaquoddy at Sipayik

Pleasant Point Tribal Government


Peskotom = Pollock

St. Croix River: Schoodic or Skutik River

Since time immemorial the Schoodic River watershed, now known as the St. Croix River watershed, has been the heart of the Passamaquoddy Ancestral Homeland. This important watershed is also the natural spawning ground and ancient homeland for several species of sea-run fish such as Atlantic Salmon, Shad, Blueback Herring and Alewife (river herring), and the quantities of sea-run fish ascending the St. Croix River was so great that historical records described it as something “almost miraculous." The river’s watershed created an ideal nursery environment for spawning fish, making the St. Croix a river of great fertility and productivity which generated an abundance of nutrients and food for countless other fish and wildlife species within the watershed and within the saltwater regions of the Passamaquoddy Bay and the Bay of Fundy.

Sea-run fish in the St. Croix River sustained the Passamaquoddy for thousands of years, without which we may not have survived. The Passamaquoddy have a unique cultural and historical relationship with this river ecosystem and the fishery within the waters. We have the duty to protect and preserve the river system, the indigenous food fishery and the sustenance fishing and saltwater fishing rights of the Passamaquoddy people so that future generations will continue to survive. We recognize that the St Croix River ecosystem and related Natural Communities have a fundamental right to exist, flourish and evolve, and the river has a right to be clean and flow unobstructed, and the fish have a right to spawn and to live out their natural history and life cycles.

Man’s activities have seriously upset the productivity and natural balance of the St Croix River ecosystem and life cycles of the native fishery and has put this unique river ecosystem into a state of distress. Immediate and sustained action must be taken to remedy this distress. The Atlantic Salmon, the Shad and the Blueback Herring are now near extinction in this river and the Alewife are threatened with extinction. Marine species such as Cod, Haddock, Pollock, Whales and Porpoise are dependent on the high energy food source migrating to and from the river such as the Alewife.

For 18 years Maine law has blocked sea-run alewife from accessing its natural and ancient spawning grounds in the St. Croix River watershed and this blockage has harmed the Passamaquoddy People by severely diminishing an important traditional sustenance food source and disturbing the cultural practices of the tribal members. The Joint Tribal Council agrees with and supports the June 14, 2012 Passamaquoddy Chief’s Declaration of a State of Emergency within the St. Croix River. The Joint Tribal Council believes that Maine’s law blocking sea-run Alewife on the St. Croix River has resulted in a devastating loss of sea-run fish in Passamaquoddy waters and has reduced the productivity of the ecosystem and the availability of native food sources thus disturbing Passamaquoddy culture in a way that is contrary to the Settlement Act.

The Passamaquoddy Joint Tribal Council has authorized the Tribal Representative to the Maine Legislature to submit, sponsor and support legislation (LD-72) that would require the Grand Falls dam fish passage be opened to allow sea-run alewife to pass into the upper watershed above the Grand Falls Dam. April 23, 2013 the State of Maine did finally change the state law to remove the blockage in the St. Croix River at the Grand Falls Dam which allowed the sea-run alewife to pass up river to access their ancestral spawning territory. The Joint Tribal Council also authorized the Tribal Chiefs to take appropriate action to open the fish way at Grand Falls for the free passage of sea-run alewife and to restore the indigenous fishery within the St. Croix River Watershed.

For several years prior to 2012 the tribal position on alewife was not very clear. Finally, on September 26, 2012 the Joint Tribal Council adopted a resolution to clarify the tribes' position regarding the importance of the St. Croix River and the sea-run fish.

More about the St Croix Alewife

Tribal- Federal Statement of Cooperation for Restoration, June 5, 2013

NOAA Fisheries Web Page; Working Together to bring back "Siqonomeq"

Map of St.Croix Watershed

Google Earth Data and some maps of the St Croix River

Historical Photos of the Lower St Croix River

Schoodic River Partners Page