HOMETOWN: Old Town, Maine
Sage Phillips is a proud Penobscot Nation citizen and graduate student at the University of Connecticut.
Phillips is originally from Old Town, Maine, where she grew up close to her community and elders. As a 2021 Truman, Udall, and Cohen Scholar, Phillips has committed herself to a life in public service.
She began working with the Native American Cultural Programs at the University of Connecticut (UConn) as an undergrad in 2018, determined to transform and expand the programs. Centering her work in creating good relations between UConn and the land it currently occupies, Phillips is a strong advocate for future ancestors and generations at land-grant institutions, especially UConn.
In 2020, Sage received a grant to begin a research effort surrounding UConn’s history as a land-grant institution (LGI). The project today, known as LandGrabCT, was developed in partnership with the Native American Cultural Programs, the Dodd Center for Human Rights, and Greenhouse Studios. The effort has received resounding support and positive feedback, as it serves to educate the community-at-large about the historical traumas LGIs were permitted to commit against Indigenous peoples and their lands. In 2022, LandGrabCT was named as a 20 for 20 Connecticut Game Changer for Innovation in Connecticut History.
This summer, Phillips joined the Wabanaki Alliance as a Summer Fellow working with tribal leaders to defend Wabanaki sovereignty. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in human rights at UConn and works in the Native American Cultural Programs as the graduate assistant. Her main focus is Indigenous education rights as human rights, specifically equitable solutions for Indigenous youth seeking access to higher education institutions, primarily land-grant institutions.
She credits her opportunities and successes to her grandfather and father, from whom she learned leadership at an early age while watching their work in the historic Penobscot River Restoration Project.