Saturday, November 14, 2015

50 years ago today, the Peter Francis murder

As we digest the horrible attacks in France and Lebanon yesterday, I've been thinking a lot about both Paris and Pleasant Point, Maine today. Regarding ISIS, who appear at this writing to be responsible for the attack, I highly recommend this Graeme Wood article from The Atlantic's March 2015 edition.

As for Pleasant Point, readers of "Unsettled", the 29-part series I wrote for the Portland Press Herald on the harrowing recent history of Maine's Passamaquoddy tribe, will recall the horrific murder 1965 murder of Peter Francis by five white hunters. That killing -- for which the perpetrators were allowed to walk away from -- happened fifty years ago today.

My thoughts are with the families of Peter Francis and the late Christy Altvater, who was brutally beaten in the attack, and who celebrated the two  men's lives in a ceremony there today. The Francis family continues to seek justice for the killing, as four of the five Billerica, Massachusetts hunters who were involved in the attack remain alive.. (The fifth, amazingly, has a scholarship named after him at Billerica High School.) Don Gellers, the attorney who blew the whistle on local authorities' mishandling of the case and ultimately paid a terrible price for representing Indians in Maine, died just over a year ago.

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