CRDIP Share Out: Untold Histories Research Assistant at Acadia National Park
Written by: Seikou Sanneh
My first impression of the internship is that I am likely the first “diversity” focused intern that the interpretation team at Acadia has had. Maine being the most homogeneously white state, I can understand the challenge in finding a qualified person to work on researching the untold stories and opportunities for diversification in the park. That being said, I see this as a great opportunity for me to really share my knowledge and put it to the test. I have apprehensions, but most are calmed by the sheer beauty of the place, as well as the welcoming and supportive atmosphere I have encountered among staff and visitors alike. My main goal is to increase the interest in the national parks and outdoor areas in general for marginalized groups, who are less represented by the visitor demographics. I also want to make connections with the history of the island to really encourage nuanced, critical discussions on the untold stories and unprocessed events that occurred here.
I was pleasantly surprised by the relatively suburban setting of the park. I am more familiar with the likes of Yosemite or Sequoia, which have more wild settings and no major towns or ports nearby, save for those reserved for tourists. I am from New England originally, and really enjoyed the familiarity of which the park and Mount Desert Island as a whole provide for me. I guess I didn’t expect such great hiking, fishing, beaches, and mountains to be so close to a major tourist town like bar harbor. Talking to some of the tourists as well as locals, it seems that the park itself is kind of a side attraction to the beaches and harbors of the island for those who are taking day trips or short weekends up. I also was surprised to see the variety of people and activities that are present in the park, including carriage roads for biking, lots of in and out and loop trails, as well as tons of birding and lakes.
I have been learning about the park’s history, including the founders, their motives, the conservation movements that helped make the park, and much more. I would like to delve more into the history of these people, and uncover the more obscure or hidden aspects of why and how they created this park, as well as the more marginalized groups on the island and their part in the creation of this community.
Right now I am hoping to raise awareness for the Juneteenth commemoration that is occurring on the island. I am planning to attend and get some great pictures, hopefully some short interviews, and learn more about the black history of Maine. It is something that is often overlooked, but still quite a big part of the history of the park. I also hope to make a social media post for Juneteenth as well as for pride, and any other events I think would help bring to light the untold stories of Acadia.
Thanks for taking on this important work. I am so glad that you are a part of the park!