Originally published in Castine Patriot, June 30, 2022
Island Name Change Committee seeks community participation
July 7 deadline noted
The Island Name Change Committee is seeking community input via a questionnaire. The purpose of the questionnaire is to collect feedback from the broader community regarding suggestions for a collective replacement name for two islands in Castine waters, according to the committee.
In the fall of 2020, the United States Board of Geographic Names informed the town that a formal petition had been filed calling the names of Upper and Lower Negro Islands and their group name in the Bagaduce River offensive. The petitioner suggested Bagaduce as a replacement for the word Negro in each case.
The USBGN informed the town that USBGN would be changing the names, in accordance with its guidelines, but that town input would be considered if the Town wished to participate in the process.
The town voted in May 2021 to participate in changing the names, and the Island Name Change Committee was convened by the Castine select board to suggest alternate names for the individual islands, and for the islands as a group. In November 2022, residents of Castine will vote on both individual island names and on a group name from suggestions made by the committee to the select board.
The committee agreed that the names Upper and Lower Negro Islands could mark some aspect of the African American historical presence in Castine. Historical research found no direct connection between the islands and any individual African American person or family, but it did reveal notable African Americans in Castine’s history from about 1800 on.
The Island Name Change Committee will be putting forth information about those African American individuals over the summer so the town can choose two in November to be honored in the landscape.
The committee will also be suggesting possible group names for the two islands. This group name does not have to relate to the individual island names.
While the committee has discussed several possible group names, it is currently seeking suggestions on this, as well as other possibilities.
Provide suggestions by Thursday, July 7, to townoffice@ castine.me.us, to Town Hall, or at the committee’s next meeting (July 7 at 4 p.m.). The committee meets via Zoom and in person at Emerson Hall on the first Thursday of the month. The meetings are open to the public, and the agendas are posted on the town website (castine.me.us) and on the bulletin board outside town hall.