Name: Theresa Secord
Connection with USM:
Alumni B.A. Degree 1981 and Distinguished Alumni Award 2005
What band or tribe are you affiliated with and at what age did you become aware of your Native Heritage?
Member Penobscot Nation, at birth
How has maintaining your Native heritage enriched your life?
I became a basket maker after grad school (UWisconsin-Madison) and worked for my Tribe for 14 years as the staff geologist. There on Indian Island, I helped found the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance where I worked together with other basket makers to lower the average age of basket makers in all 4 tribes from 63 to 40 and increased numbers from 55 founding members to around 150 today, thereby helping to bring forward a new generation of basketmakers.
Are you involved with your community? How do you stay active within your community?
Yes, basket maker for 33 years, language work, etc...mentoring Numerous intersections with Wabanaki community through my art and active as trustees at Colby College Museum Art Museum and Portland Museum of Art continuing to steer opportunities to native artists through exhibitions, art acquisitions, artist fellowships and contract work etc...
Specifically at USM, what was positive and what do you think could be improved to make Native experience better (student or employee)?
I remember taking some of the first Indigenous classes there, but felt mostly invisible. In those days we were invisible and there was no support for native students. I faced some resentment among others that I had a tuition waiver and even denial that there were Indians in Maine. I grew up in South Portland and like all over Maine there was little information in the school systems about our people and tribes, same was true in the books and resources in college. I was honored to receive USM's distinguished alumni award. This spring I received an honorary Ph.D. in Fine Arts from Colby College.
Are there any resources you would like to share for people who would like to learn more?
My website has more on me: www.theresasecord.com