The Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Company is 100% owned, managed and operated by Passamaquoddy Tribe members.
Ancient Blueberry Tradition
The Passamaquoddy People is a federally-recognized tribe in Maine and is also present without recognition as First Nation in Canada.
The Passamaquoddy People have inhabited the area in Down East Maine since time immemorial and have nurtured an ancient connection with wild blueberries, which we call sahtiyil in our language. Wild blueberries have significant value as a medicine and as a food crop. As such, they were harvested by the Passamaquoddy People for thousands of years before commercial harvesting of Maine’s wild blueberries began in the 1840s. Today, that history lives on through the Tribe’s ownership of PWBC, the Tribal citizens that the Company employs, and the active contributions that the Company makes to the Tribe as a whole.
Native Owned and Operated
PWBC is managed throughout the year by staff and an Operating Board, and employs hundreds of tribal and non-Passamaquoddy tribal members who flock to Columbia Falls to assist as during the harvest season every August. These individuals use handrakes to gather and box the blueberries in what is an ancient practice for the Passamaquoddy People. We have been harvesting and sustaining ourselves on blueberries this way since the glaciers receded in our homelands. In our language we refer to the handrakers and harvesters as nutuwisit, which translates to berry-picker or blueberry harvester.
Through the collective efforts of these individuals and with the support of the Tribe, PWBC and its predecessors have independently produced millions of pounds of low-bush, wild blueberries year after year since being first acquired by the Tribe in 1981.
In the backdrop of challenging market conditions, maintaining the tribal tradition of handpicking has been a key priority for the company. This choice led us to find new paths to grow and secure our business while fostering this cultural event.
Woliwon // Thank You to our partners in this exciting journey towards Native American food independence and value-added production.
In particular, we are extremely grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture and the Native American Agriculture Fund for their ongoing support.