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For Immediate Release
February 12, 2008
Contact: Don Cookson
207- 626-8400

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap Offers High Praise for Winners of 2008
Native American History and Culture Essay Contest

Augusta- Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced the winners of Maine’s Native American History and Culture Essay Contest today.  “This contest has experienced a tremendous resurgence in interest,” Dunlap said, “thanks to Maine’s amazing students and great teachers who work with them every day. The most impressive nature of this year’s many entries serves to illustrate the success Maine’s educators are experiencing in their efforts to engage Maine’s high-caliber students, by teaching about the history and culture of Maine’s native nations—a rich and varied history and culture that has a lasting effect on every Mainer to this day.”

This year’s top honors in the high school division go to Garrison Beck, a junior at Monmouth Academy, for his essay entitled The European Plague of the Maine Native Americans.  Top middle school honors went to eighth grader Emily Muscat from Cape Elizabeth Middle School who authored a submission entitled Wabanaki-European Relations.

Secretary Dunlap, who took part in the judging of the essays himself this year, says this year’s two volunteer judges both exemplify what it takes to be a great resource for Maine’s children. “Jay Adams serves on Maine’s National History Day Steering Committee as well as being Curator-Director of Augusta’s Historic Old Fort Western, and he shares my enthusiasm for the importance of historical study as part of Maine’s school curriculums. Brenda Bonsant is not only a longtime preschool educator, she’s also served as Deputy Town Clerk in Windsor for the past 15 years. Her own Native American heritage brings a valuable perspective to the judging process. I am tremendously grateful to both of these very busy people for their willingness to give of their time and expertise to help make this year’s contest a reality,” Dunlap said.

Open to students statewide, the contest called on students to explore at least one aspect of Maine Native American history, and to write an essay of between 500-1000 words detailing what they had learned. The top prize in each category is a 100 dollar US Savings Bond. Complete winner’s information can be viewed on-line here:

Secretary of State Dunlap noted the importance of studying the history of the State’s Native peoples for all Maine students, and pointed to Maine law MRSA 20-A, Section 4706, providing for the inclusion of this significant area of study. (The law can be viewed on line at