Shylah Woodford

AUGUSTA — Secretary of State Shenna Bellows is congratulating three students as the winners of the 2021 Maine Native American History and Culture Essay Contest.

Shylah Woodford, an eleventh grader at Maranacook Community High School won high school first place for her essay “The People of Dawnland.” Secretary of State Bellows and the State Archivist will be Zooming into Shylah's US History class in February to congratulate her and discuss Native American history. Later this Spring Shylah and her family are invited to the State House to meet Secretary Bellows in person and receive her award.

“Connecting with students about the full history of their home – especially the parts of history that are often distorted or overlooked – is a vital part of their education,” said Secretary Bellows. “Learning about Wabanaki history helps set up non-Wabanaki Maine students to be conscientious and thoughtful citizens as well as providing some of the tools to be able to assess how we as a community and state are correcting or perpetuating misdeeds of the past. For Wabanaki and other indigenous students, inclusion of Maine Native American history is an important validation of their communities, cultures, and traditions as important parts of our shared narrative.”

 Open to middle and high school students statewide, the annual contest requires participants to explore at least one aspect of Maine Native American history and to write an essay describing what they have learned.

 Secretary Bellows encourages students and all Mainers to explore the holdings of the Maine State Archives, where they will be able to view Maine’s original treaties with native peoples and original field books of early Maine land surveyors. Many of these documents have been digitized for online access.

Maine law Title 20-A 4706 requires schools to teach Maine Native American history. This contest provides Maine students with a unique opportunity to share what they have learned in their studies. To learn more about this contest and other student programs offered by the Office of the Secretary of State, visit