MALAGA ISLAND STATEMENT
Malaga’s story is one of survival and struggle of a mixed-race fishing community doomed by intolerance and forced out in the name of the “greater good.”
Pressured by local officials and a biased press, the State of Maine purchased Malaga Island and ordered the inhabitants to leave by July 1, 1912. Buildings were removed, the schoolhouse relocated, and the bodies from the island’s cemetery exhumed and reburied at the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded, where several islanders were committed and later died. Malaga was never resettled and never became the summer tourist colony that locals had envisioned. But many Malaga descendants remained in the area, becoming a vital part of the communities that once shunned their ancestors.
I like to imagine that the people of Malaga Island were able to maintain the sense of an inner home even at a time when every outward representation of home was being taken away. The image of the person standing in the water; the turbulent calm of the body and visage are reminders that in the face of eradication we may disappear but our spirits are not diminished. Our physical home is shallow whereas the depth of our inner home cannot be measured.