This River is Our Relative

“This River is Our Relative” celebrates Penobscot Nation’s intrinsic kinship connection to and tireless environmental advocacy of the Penobscot River. The story is told through the voices of 24 Penobscot people, who share their experience of historical, physical, and spiritual connection to place; of cultural identity and survival. Their narratives are interwoven with a traditional Wabanaki story about how The People and Glouskap defeated a greedy monster frog, Aklebemu, who was hoarding all the water.

This story parallels both historical and present day environmental concerns, and is also the origin story of the Penobscot family Clans. “You can point to any aspect of our culture from a riverine perspective,” says Penobscot Cultural and Historic Preservation Dept. Director James E. Francis, Sr.

This documentary shows the Penobscot Nation’s dedication to environmental justice and their efforts to minimize pollution, demonstrates the importance of respecting inherent Tribal sovereignty, and celebrates Penobscot peoples’ ongoing river-based cultural traditions. As people who have lived in reciprocity with the Penobscot River for over 10,000 years, there is nobody more committed than the Penobscot people to protecting the health of this watershed. “It is our responsibility to care for that River, for all of us,” explains Penobscot activist and filmmaker Dawn Neptune Adams.

Despite many obstacles including ongoing territorial theft and a rapidly increasing number of pollutants, the Penobscot Nation and its people continue to demonstrate their commitment to protecting the health of their beloved Relative, the Penobscot River. “I always come back to the water because that’s where I belong. It’s my Relative,” explains Penobscot Elder Kathy Paul, “and I want to stay and support that Relative.”


Directed by Dawn Neptune Adams, Meredith DeFrancesco, Kathy Paul, Joanna Weaver


Dawn Neptune Adams, Meredith DeFrancesco, Kathy Paul, Joanna Weaver


Sunlight Media Collective


Dawn Neptune Adams, Meredith DeFrancesco, Maria Girouard, Lokotah Sanborn, Joanna Weaver

Key Cast

Carol Dana, Nicole Johnson, Kaden Neptune Adams, James E Francis, Sr., Lee Francis, Kirk Francis, Reuben “Butch” Phillips, Jus Crea Giammarino, Gabe Paul, Aliya Sapiel, Irving Sapiel-Bassett, Damon Galipeau, Kathy Paul, Cheryl Francis, Jan Paul, Martin Neptune, Jennifer Neptune, Sheylee Sapiel, Stanley Neptune, John Banks, Sherri Mitchell, Maria Girouard, Dawn Neptune Adams, Jeanne Lewey, John Neptune



March 1st – March 8th

Streaming Exclusively
Red Nation Television Network

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