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Program 8: People of the Dawn

Maine’s four Indian tribes have occupied the region for 12,000 years. The last 400 are marked by struggle, as disease, warfare and erosion of tribal traditions have jeopardized the survival of the first nations to call Maine home. Today, the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Maliseet and Micmac are all in a period of cultural renaissance. The 12,000 year history is long and storied, full of triumph and loss, heartbreak and tears. Three traditional birchbark canoes loaded with supplies. (origin: New Brunswick Museum)
People of the Dawn tells the story of the dynamic people who’ve inhabited the landscape of Maine. The first and longest lasting period of Maine’s history is the world of the Native American, stretching from the retreat of the last Ice Age, 12,000 years to the present.
A Penobscot man strips splints from ash logs for basketmaking in Old Town circa 1915. (origin: National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.) The birch bark canoe, a symbol of heritage for all four of Maine's native Wabanaki tribes, connects today's tribe members to their ancestors of 12,000 years. The Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Maliseet and Micmac people are all are known for making distinctive boats out of the plentiful birch tree.
The history of these native people dates long before the first canoe was crafted but as the tribes evolved, the skills necessary to make the boats were developed. Maine’s Wabanaki today continue to meticulously construct the birchbark canoe using the same methods perfected thousands of years ago, these boats are uniquely suited for the various waterways of coastal and interior Maine. And it’s no wonder that the birchbark canoe is the perfect metaphor, symbolizing the resilience Maine's Wabanaki people today. Early 1900s Wabanaki birchbark canoe construction. (origin: Canadian Museum of Civilization)

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WABANAKI CULTURE IN MAINE HERE ARE SOME LINKS TO MAINE'S WABANAKI PEOPLE:

  1. The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians
  2. The Aroostook Band of Micmac
  3. The Penobscot Nation
  4. Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point
  5. Passamaquoddy Sovereign Nation


MORE CREATION STORIES | EARLY RACE RELATIONS | INDIAN NON-INTERCOURSE ACT | RECENT HISTORY | FEATURED INTERVIEWS | TRANSCRIPT | NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE


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