Orphan Train excerpt… a novel worth looking into….by Christina Baker Kline

“She remembers third grade that the Indian Island School, where she learned that the name Penobscot is from Panawahpskek, meaning “the place where the rocks spread out” at the head of the tribal river, right where they were.  That Wabanaki means “dawn land”, because the tribes live in the regions where the first light of dawn touches the American continent.  That the Penobscot people have lived the the territory that became Maine for eleven thousand years, moving around season to season, following food.  They trapped and hunted moose, caribou, otters, and beavers: they speared fish and clams and mussels.  Indian Island, just above the waterfall, became their gathering place.  She learned about Indian words that be been incorporated into American English, like moose, and pecan and squash, and Penobscot words like ,kwai kwai a friendly greeting, and woliwoni, thank you.  She learned that they lived in wigwams, no teepees, and that they made canoes from the bark of a single white birch tree, removed on one piece so as not to kill it.  She learned about the Penobscots still make out of birch bark, sweet grass, and brown ash, all of which grow in Maine wetlands, and guided by her teacher, even made a small one herself.

She knows that she was named Molly Molasses, a famous Penobscot Indian born the year before America declared its independence from England.  Molly Molasses lived into her nineties, coming and going from Indian Island, and was said to possess m’teoulin,power given by the Great Spirit to a few for the good of the whole. ………”


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