The Journey to Maine

EXCELLENT!!!! You worked hard on this!

As she entered Mars Hill, Maine, Vandora Paul’s stomach did a nervous dance. Her heart pounded at break-neck speed. After 23 years, she had to revisit her painful past. She looked at the streets, where she recalled being stared at for her skin color. The memories are still so vivid.

“Kids would spit at me, pull my hair, throw books on my head and call me names,” said Vandora, a North American Indian from the tribe of Micmac. Raised until age 6 in New York City, a “United Nations,” she describes, she never knew racial discrimination existed. In 1975, her family relocated to an old, run-down school building in Mars Hill to escape from her father.

“My dad would beat up my mum and I. She left him to protect us,” said Vandora. It was difficult for him to trace them in Mars Hill, where there were only three Indian families and no reservations for the Micmacs.

It was studying in Aroostook County Elementary School that jolted her to the reality of racial prejudice. “I would hide near the book shelf at the back of the classroom during recess to prevent the white kids from bullying me,” said Vandora, “but the teachers would pull me out to join the rest. They didn’t understand.” One did.

Mrs. Hickey, a white lady, encouraged Vandora to verbalize her feelings and stand up for herself: “Don’t back down or show them you are scared!” she would tell Vandora.

Vandora tried, but the discrimination continued. One night, while her whole family was in the dining room, Vandora spotted a shadow outside. She smelled smoke. The house was in flames! The vandal was never caught, and soon they moved into an apartment downtown.

The situation did not improve. “People would drive by and throw beer bottles at us,” she said.
“When I walked down the street, people would give a mean stare and restaurants would reject us. I felt unwanted.”

“I kept asking why did people hate me, is it just because I’m brown?” Because of her father’s past, her mother never told her about her heritage.

It was her grandmother who told her the truth when she was nine. “She sat me down one day,” Vandora recalled, “and told me to be proud of who I am. A Native American.”

“They called you names because they are jealous that our ancestors were the first to step on the soil of America, and because we have our own land,” her grandmother said.

Tensions had always existed between the Caucasians and the Natives, but it aggravated by the 1970’s legal tussle over some 12.5 million acres of land that the Natives thought they rightfully deserved. Yet it was the Indians like Vandora who lived off reservations that bore the brunt of the antagonism.

The Maine Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights meeting on October 1979 described: “The non-reservation Indians have been subjected to the wrath of a confused non-Indian population which believes that all Maine Indians will be ‘on easy street’ as the result of the suit.”

The Central Maine Indian Association estimates about 2,600 Indians lived off reservation, while 1,300 lived on reservation in 1970.

Vandora’s struggle with racial prejudice ended when Vandora’s mother married a man-also a Micmac- and her whole family relocated to the Indian Brook Reservation in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1982.

“I was so relieved to leave. I hated the place,” Vandora said grimly. “I wouldn’t want to return to a place where I felt unwelcomed.”

But in 2005, she promised her grandmother to return with her. The Micmac tribe was allocated the Presque Isle Indian Reservation in the 1980’s. There are now about 10,572 Natives in Maine, compared to only 4000 in 1970.

Vandora got out of her car. She could not believe she was back. The place had a new lease of life. The air of tension and hatred had vanished.

“Good morning!” said a young man carrying a bag of groceries. Vandora gave him a weird stare.

“You are a pretty Indian woman,” the man said. Vandora was shocked. She had expected the usual nasty look. There was a 180-degree change. As she walked along the streets, people greeted her. She was served warmly in restaurants.

“They were basically saying, come join us, you are one of us too!” said Vandora.

She visited her high school and observed a class playing on the field. Indians, Whites, Asians and Blacks were free to walk around without being harassed for their skin colors.

“The new generation of Americans has become more accepting of different races,” said Vandora.

“Being welcomed back was the best experience in my life,” she said, her voice quivering. “Their actions were like a way of apologizing for what they have done to my community 23 years ago.”

COM 467 – FEATURE WRITING–GRADE SHEET

Student Name:    _____FAITH__________________ Date: __Jan. 30, 2008___Grade: _100___

Grade:     Each of the following is worth 10 points for your total grade of 100.

1.Peer review: Did the article receive a peer review prior to its being turning in?    10

2. Deadline: Was the article turned in the day it was due?   10

3. Appropriate length: Is the article the required word count? This is a wonderful story but it is way too long! The assignment was “about 750”; 800 would be tops. This is over 1,200. You worked too hard!           5      10

4. Format: Are the lead paragraphs sufficiently interesting to draw in readers? Are body paragraphs well organized around a central idea? Do the concluding paragraph(s) end with a provocative idea or other special treatment?     I like the lede but the time element is a little confusing (see my suggestions in text). The ending quote is terrific.    7     10

5. Logic and support: Are all assertions and claims presented in the article supported with facts? Are all sources of information cited? Is the information credible? It is very clear that you interviewed Vandora for most of your information, and you have cited the sources of other information.   10

6. Type of story: Is the article written in feature style, as opposed to straight news style? Does the content conform to the definition of a feature story? Is there a strong human-interest element present?  Yes, definitely.   10

7. Sufficient details: Are there enough details to cover the questions of Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? (5 Ws and 1 H) Do you answer all the basic questions that a reader might have? 9 (see my note about the lede)   10

8. Original and specific information: Does the writer use evocative details and facts to share a full (“virtual reality”) experience with readers? Is this information widely available, or is the information unique and interesting? A very interesting story! How amazing that you met this woman in a shopping center (is that right?)    10

9. Social value, tone and reader interest: Do you provide readers with timely, interesting, valuable and well-focused information?   Very timely; you did a good job of helping the reader feel this young woman’s experience of racism very personally.   10

10. Editing: Grammar mechanics and sentence syntax    (see notes in text for specifics)   8    10

SENTENCE SYNTAX & WORD ORDER:          GRAMMAR RULES:                  PUNCTUATION USE:
______ Sentence Variety             ______Verb Tenses                ___x__  comma (,)
______ Subjunctive Mood              ______ Subject-Verb Agreement                  ______ colon (:)
______ Coordinate (Compound)         ______ Possessives                     _____  semicolon (;)
______ Subordinate (Complex)         ______ Singular/Plural                   ______ period (.)
______ Use of Lists             ______ Capitalization                   __x___ quotations
______ Imperative                 ______ Lower Case                              (” “)
______ Question Form             ______ Modifiers (misplaced/dangling)          _____ampersand (&)
______ Parallelism in Construction         ______ Number Use                   __x__ quote within a
______ Fragments                  ______ Article Use                   quotation
______ Run-Ons / Comma Splice          ______ Pronoun:                                (” ‘ ‘ “)
__x___ Wordiness                   ______ Object Pronoun                ______ percentage (%)
______ Double Negative              ______ Participle Form                ______ asterisk use (*)
______ Shifts in Point of View         _____ Preposition Use                ______ degree/temp.
______ Descriptive Clause             _____ Pronoun Reference                      ______ apostrophe (‘)
______ Use of Cliché            ______ Gender-Biased Language                   ______ (parenthesis)

WORD USE:                 ______ Verbs: Active/PassiveUse                  ______ a.m./p.m.
______ Underlining/Italicizing         ______ Missing Object                ______dash (–)
___x__ Diction Level/Word Choice         ______ Comparative                ______ hyphen (-)
______ Spelling                 ______ Superlative             ______ exclamation (!)
______ Adjective Use             ______ question mark
______ Conjunctions             ______ $ sign
______ Adverb Use             ______ Abbreviation

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One response to “The Journey to Maine

  1. Wow
    I was so surprised to see this when I put my name into google…
    Thank you for such a good job writing my story.
    any way the writer can write with a copy of this?. or please put it my facebook?. on facebook look up using my email address, you shouldn`t have any problems…..
    I am so grateful and shocked still…..wow…thank you once again…….

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