Local Spotlight: Minquansis Sapiel

Local Spotlight: Minquansis Sapiel
Minquansis Sapiel reads her book "Little People of the Dawn" at the Libby Library in Old Orchard Beach. PHOTO BY LIZ GOTTHELF
Liz Gotthelf, Publisher

 Old Orchard Beach resident Minquansis Sapiel’s recently published children’s book, “Little People of the Dawn” tells the importance of preserving culture through the curious outlook of a young girl.

Sapiel, a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, grew up on The Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Reservation. As a child she loved the ocean and playing on the beach and hearing stories about the Little People, a legendary community of tiny creatures.

“They were known for taking things. They liked shiny things, like earrings and pennies,” she said.  

She loved telling the stories of the Little People to her children and taking them to explore the shore. Their time together inspired her to write a story that would later become a book.

“I got the spark when my children were young. Seeing them play on the beach – it was just like me when I was their age. The beach became their make-up world,” she said.


“Little People of the Dawn,” tells the story of Lili, who like Sapiel and her children, loves the beach. The story takes place at Pleasant Point, where Sapiel played as a child.

 “When at the beach Lili’s world became full of excitement and adventure. Anything was possible. She imagined boulders as houses, shells became jewels, mussels became pearls and granite rocks became diamonds that sparked in the sun,” wrote Sapiel.

Lili happens upon some Little People while exploring an island. The Little People were once friends of the Passamaquoddy tribe. Over time, as people forgot traditional ways, the Little People retreated to caves and were seldom seen. Lili decides she wants to become better acquainted with them, and sets off to learn the Passamaquoddy language, get better rooted in her tribe’s traditions, and become a better steward of the earth.

Sapiel, a social worker, helped Native Americans in Maine stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic as a storyteller in online gatherings through Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness. She shared Lili’s story and was encouraged by others to publish it as a children’s book.

“Little People of the Dawn” is published by Black Bears and Blueberries publishing, and illustrated by Sapiel’s child, Minsoss Sapiel-Bobadilla. To purchase a book or host a reading, contact Sapiel at [email protected]

Publisher Liz Gotthelf can be reached at [email protected].