Wayne A. Newell

NewellWayne A. Newell, 79, on December 23, 2021, at home surrounded by his family in Motahkomikuk (Indian Township), Maine. Wayne was born on April 16, 1942, to Aloysius and Adelaide (Soctomah) Newellon on the Passamaquoddy Reservation of Sipayik (Pleasant Point) near Perry, Maine. Wayne overcame poverty, legal blindness, and discrimination to become an internationally revered educator, peacemaker, nurturer of the revival of Passamaquoddy language and culture, and a member of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) since 1969.

Wayne learned of Quakers as a ten-year-old when there was a Quaker workcamp at the Pleasant Point Reservation. Years later he became the AFSC Wabanaki program director in Maine. In 1969, during his first visit to AFSC’s national office in Philadelphia, Pa., Wayne was impressed with the diversity and common purpose he found, writing, “I came home feeling that I wanted more of this brotherhood. . . . As a Passamaquoddy who will in the distant future recall these days when the path was so dark, I will surely remember the AFSC star was always there to light the way.” He contributed to the AFSC resource book The Wabanakis of Maine and the Maritimes.

During the 1960s, Wayne focused on tribal community development. In 1969, he was selected to participate in the Ford Foundation’s Leadership Development Program, working with the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Division to create an alternative school program for Native student dropouts.

Wayne attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education, earning his master’s degree in 1971. From 1971 to 1978, he directed the first bilingual/bicultural education program for Indian Township. He authored or coauthored more than 40 books written in the Passamaquoddy–Maliseet language. From 1978 to 1987, Wayne helped Indian Tribal Services set up a health delivery system. During 1987–88, he served as a planner with the Indian Township Tribal Government. In 1988, Wayne returned to teaching at the Indian Township School, a position he loved.

Wayne was appointed by Presidents Carter and Obama to serve on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education; was appointed to the Maine Human Rights Commission by Governor Curtis; served two terms in the Maine Legislature as the Passamaquoddy Tribal representative; and was appointed to the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission, which oversaw implementation of the Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980. For 27 years, Wayne served as president of the Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Company. He was a lecturer on multiculturalism; served on boards of hospitals, museums, schools, and civic organizations; received a distinguished achievement award from the University of Maine at Machias; assisted the University of Maine in Orono develop a Native studies program; was honored by the Passamaquoddy community and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs in the field of Native education; served two terms on the Indian Township Tribal Council and the Passamaquoddy Joint Tribal Council; assisted the Maine Department of Education develop a Native studies curriculum; was appointed by the Secretary of the Interior to serve on the rulemaking committee of the No Child Left Behind Act; and was the first Wabanaki Tribal person to serve on the University of Maine System Board of Trustees. Wayne was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Southern Maine Community College (2020) and the University of Maine in Orono (2021). Wayne edited his first book in English and Passamaquoddy in 2021, titled Kuhkomossonuk Akonutomuwinokot: Stories Our Grandmothers Told Us.

During the 1980s and ’90s, Wayne participated with Natives and non-Natives (including Friends) in “the Gatherings” to explore pressing questions at the heart of “Truth and Healing efforts” in the United States and Canada.

Wayne modeled that of God in every person. The blessings of his life will be felt unto the Seventh Generation.

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