On Thursday, my partner and I went to Bucksport’s waterfront to see the exciting educational and evocative historical reproduction of Columbus’s flagship, the Nao Santa Maria, arrive and tie up, as part of the celebration of Maine’s pandemic deferred, 200th anniversary celebration.
A good crowd turned out to welcome it. And, to see the wide eyes of the many children who were there, and hear the questions they asked, was to know something rare and priceless was happening.
The plan was for it to stay five days, and then continue up the Penobscot River to Bangor, before continuing on to other ports along the East Coast.
I would imagine the docents and spirited young crew, who have been having an experience of a lifetime aboard this elegantly crafted, somewhat teapot-shaped vessel, which exhibits 15th century cutting-edge seafaring technology to the eyes, as no textbook depiction could ever hope to, who bravely sailed this vessel across the wide Atlantic from Spain, probably had little inkling of the tempest their arrival would gather.
Now, it is with a heavy heart that I must express the most profound disappointment at the narrow and peevish reaction of spokespersons of Maine’s Native American tribes, and taken up by my progressive Democratic friends, folks I might have believed to know better, who are so insulted and outraged by anything to do with Columbus to exhibit a perfectly stupid, appalling and ungracious rejection of this entirely worthy venture to celebrate our state’s second century, and sharing something beautiful they have accomplished with us.
Yes, I fully appreciate what the protest is about, and I also know the difference between an apple and an orange when it’s right in front of my face!
Now, local officials up and down the river are saying they didn’t know the galleon was coming, the city fathers of Bangor have canceled the upcoming visit of the tall ships (How do you say “bath with baby” in Indigenous?) and the Nao Santa Maria has pulled up its ramp so visitors cannot even come aboard for the tour.
They have been asked to leave, and suddenly have nowhere to go!
I ask, what does this say about us?
As a parting shot off the deck, why don’t the tribes, along with my fellow progressives take this issue to the pols who would ban the teaching of the truth about our history, to use this moment and that ship to meld the meaning of all that has come about?
Alas, a really terrific opportunity to show what we are made of, and how we have grown wiser, has been lost.
My two spars worth.