Maine Native American author Donna Loring deposits personal papers to UNE Maine Women Writers Collection

August 30, 2009

The University of New England's Maine Women Writers Collection is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal and literary papers of author Donna Loring, former Penobscot Tribal Representative to the Maine State Legislature.

This acquisition is the first given by a Native American woman to the University's collections. It enriches the women's literary collections preserved in the MWWC facility for research and study, and it signals a new direction in the acquisition of papers of women authors from very significant yet underrepresented groups. These papers shed light on the enormously varied life experiences of Loring.

One of the primary purposes of the gift is to make the papers available for research and promote scholarship on Native issues. Projects such as curriculum units will be developed on the UNE - MWWC Website in the future to further encourage study in this subject area. For more information on this aspect of the collection, please consult the MWWC website.

Lecture Series

UNE also announces the first in a new annual lecture series: The Donna M. Loring Lecture. This series will address current or historic Native American or Aboriginal issues, Indigenous rights, as well as women’s issues, civil rights, and issues of fairness and equality as they overlap with the concerns of tribal peoples. At noon on Thursday, October 1, 2009, in the St. Francis Room in the lower level of the Ketchum Library at the Biddeford Campus of UNE, Rebecca Sockbeson, Ph.D. candidate, will deliver the inaugural Loring Lecture, entitled “Weaving Waponahki Policy toward Decolonization."

Shadow of the Eagle

Loring's recent book, In the Shadow of the Eagle, Tilbury House, 2008, chronicles her experiences as the tribal representative to the State Legislature. Maine is the only state in the nation to have tribal representatives seated in its legislative body, a practice that began in the 1820s. Although the representatives from the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe don't have voting power on the house floor, they serve on committees and may chair study committees.

Loring's first session as representative of the Penobscot Nation was a difficult one - a personal struggle for a "voice," but also an opportunity to address key issues: changing offensive names, teaching Native American history in Maine schools, advocating for casinos and racinos, and interpreting sovereign rights for tribes.

Some of the struggles and issues remain as she continues to serve her community, and the perspective she offers - as a Native American and as a legislator - is both valuable and fascinating. This is the first book ever written by a Maine Indian Representative about this unique legislative experience and the first book ever written that tells a story from the inside of the Maine State Legislature.

Loring maintained a journal for four years of her early legislative experience. The book presents her journal from that time but also covers the continuing struggles that Maine Native people face. 

Biography

Donna Loring grew up on Indian Island and graduated from the University of Maine at Orono with a B.A. in political science. Loring is a Vietnam veteran. Her professional background is in law enforcement, and she is a graduate of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. She was the first woman police academy graduate to become police chief in the state of Maine and served as the police chief for the Penobscot Nation during the 1980s.

In 1992 she became the first woman director of security at Bowdoin College, a position she held until March of 1997. Loring was appointed aide de camp to then-governor Angus King on March 17, 1999, and was commissioned with the rank of colonel by the governor. She was advisor to former Governor King on women veterans' affairs.

Among her legislative accomplishments, Loring authored and sponsored LD 291 "An Act to Require Teaching Maine Native American History and Culture in Maine's Schools." Governor Angus King signed the Act into law on June 14th 2001. The law is changing the way Maine views its history. 

Loring also conceptualized and advocated for the first "State of the Tribes Address" in Maine History. Tribal Chiefs addressed a Joint Session of the Legislature on March 11, 2002. The event was carried live on Maine Public Television and Radio.

Recognition

Loring is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions. On Nov. 4, 1999, Loring received the Mary Ann Hartman Award from the University of Maine's Women in the Curriculum and Women's Studies Program. The award recognizes outstanding Maine women for their accomplishments in the arts, politics, business, education, and community service.

On June 20th 2004 Loring was featured in the Maine Sunday Telegram as one of ten women "Making a Difference in Maine" and making Maine a better place to live. In the March/April 2006 edition of UMAINE TODAY she was named one of the most important women in Maine History in an on-line Women's Studies course poll.  And in the November of 2007 edition of Portland Magazine Donna was named one of the ten most intriguing people in Maine

The University of New England is proud to hold this significant collection.