|18,500 BP (before the present)
||The last glacier, known as the Wisconsin
glaciation, begins to recede.
||The glacier and arctic-like tundra are
gone from all but northern Maine.
||Maine's first human population arrives,
||Paleo-Indians seem to disappear.
||Late Paleo-Indians briefly visit Maine.
Most common in northern and western Maine.
||A variety of Archaic people appear in
succession in Maine.
||Maritime adaptation, including swordfish
hunting, emerges on the coast. Red
Paint burial sites date from this time period.
||A new population arrives in Maine from
the southeast. It is less marine-oriented and used more land resources.
||Archaic people population appears to decline.
||Ceramic people arrive and pottery makes
its first appearance in Maine. Also, the first wigwams and birchbark
canoes appear here.
||Norse explorations, settlements, and timber-harvesting
parties visit Newfoundland, Labrador, and other arctic regions, as
well as the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Norse probably did not make
it to the Gulf of Maine though.
||As many as 20,000 Indians are living in
Maine in three major ethnic groups Armouchiquois (southern
Maine to Cape Elizabeth), Etchemin, today's Maliseet and Paasamaquoddy
(Kennebec to St. John rivers), and Abenaki (interior and western
sections). The Souriquois (today's Micmac) were living mostly east
of the St. John River in New Brunswick. (By 1700, Wabanaki, the
People of the Dawn, would be generic term for all Maine Indians).
New England Indians are part of the Algonquin language family. This
group includes all Indians of New England and the Canadian Maritimes,
including Maliseet and Micmac. It also includes the Pequots in Connecticut,
Narrangansetts in Rhode Island, Wampanoags in Rhode Island and Massachusetts,
the Nipmucks along the Connecticut River Valley, and the Abenaki of
Maine, New Hampshire and northern Vermont.
||The first agriculture in Maine is in a
region from the southwestern part of state up to the Kennebec River.
Samuel de Champlain sees Indians growing corn, beans and squash at
Saco and up to the Kennebec. East of this area, it appears natives
remained mostly hunters and gatherers at the time of contact with
||Native pottery goes out of use as metal
kettles become available through indirect trade with Nova Scotia
Indians, who get them from Europeans in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Europeans cannot seem to get enough furs, mostly beaver, from Indians.
In time, this disrupts relations between tribes as they vie for the
European trade. The intense trapping also severely depletes the number
of fur-bearing animals. As trappers and middlemen in the trans-Atlantic
fur trade, Indians become dependent on European steel tools, cloth,
alcohol, tobacco, and other commodities. The Indians' birchbark canoes,
snowshoes and woven wood pack baskets are considered curiosities
||The first English and Acadian settlements
in Maine. By 1620, both fishing and trading are well established.
||Maine coastal Indians and Micmac of New
Brunswick and Nova Scotia fight each other for control of fur trade.
Micmac are better equipped because of closer ties to Europeans in
the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Dying," a three-year pandemic begins to decimate the native
population, actually wiping out some coastal groups altogether.
This was just the first of several epidemics that killed as many
as 90-95% of Maine Indians in an area from Penobscot Bay to Cape
Cod. It's believed that the plague, smallpox, cholera, measles,
hepatitis, and whooping cough transmitted by Europeans were responsible
for the Indian deaths. Some survivors move to older villages to
the east and in Canada. It's unclear whether the epidemics had
as great of an impact in eastern Maine.
Anglo-Wabanaki War (King Philip's War) begins after an Indians'
uprising against English settlements. Six thousand English settlers
are killed or driven out of a huge area from Wells to Pemaquid.
||A series of five "French and Indian" wars
are fought by Indians, French and English. In some, Indians are allied
with the French for their conflict with England. Others are simply
motivated by self-preservation to stem the steady encroachment by
English on Indian lands and food sources. English settlers offer
bounties for Indian scalps. French offer bounties for English scalps.
Many Wabanaki move out of Maine to Canada's St. Francis and St. Lawrence
river valleys. Not quite halfway through the wars, Indians are broken
as a fighting force and English have permanent fortifications in
Anglo-Wabanaki War (King William's War) is directly connected
to on ongoing power struggle in Europe.
||Facing the aggressive expansion of British
colonists, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac begin to
formalize a council known as the Wabanaki Confederacy. As "brothers" in
the Wabanaki family, the allied Indians call upon each other to help
fight outside enemies. As told in a Passamaquoddy narrative:
Long ago, the Indians were always fighting against each
other. They struck one another bloodily. There were many men,
women and children who alike were tormented by these constant
It seemed as if all were tired of how they had
lived wrongly. The great chiefs said to the others, "Looking
back from here the way we have come, we see that we have left
bloody tracks. We see many wrongs. And as for these bloody
hatchets, and bows, arrows, they must be buried forever." Then
they all set about deciding to join with one another in a confederacy.
The Confederacy had its own symbol on a wampum belt, which
had four white triangles on a blue background, signifying the
union of four allied tribes. In times of need, envoys took this
belt to invite allies "to take up the hatchet against the enemies
of the nation."
|1703 - 1713
Anglo-Wabanaki War (Queen Anne's War) also has European roots.
Following orders from the French Crown, Canada's governor declares
war on neighboring English colonists.
Anglo-Wabanaki War (Dummer's or Lovewell's War) is a local
war of Indians reacting to British encroachment. English attack
and burn many Indian villages, including Norridgewock and Old Town.
Indians retaliate by destroying English settlements on lower Kennebec.
Anglo-Wabanaki War (King George's War) begins after France
declares war on Britain, and the conflict spills over into northeast
America. English declare war on Micmacs and Maliseets.
Anglo-Wabanaki War (French & Indian or Seven Years War) breaks
out after France and Britain wage war again and the conflict intensifies
hostilities in colonial North America.
||French and Indian Wars end with the Treaty
of Paris which forces France to give Canada (New France & Acadia)
to England. Many Wabanaki homelands are included in the swap but
without the Indians' consent.
||Eastern Maine Indians reluctantly take
up arms during the Revolutionary War. Some Maliseets and Passamaquoddies
(Etchemin) joined British troops during the Revolutionary War, but
more were likely to support Colonists. At the Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy
Reservation there's a monument (placed by the Daughters of the American
Revolution) honoring the Indians who fought with the Colonists against
||Historians incorrectly assume that since
so many Wabanaki have relocated to Jesuit missions in Canada, they
would become "extinct" in Maine.
Many of the Wabanaki from Maine end up in St. Francois-du-lac, Becancour,
and Sillery in Quebec province with Canadian Abanaki. Since traditional
Wabanaki are oral languages and not written ones, historical records
are hard to come by. Many tribal stories about cultural heroes and wampum
belts with glyphs that tell about past events begin to disappear.
||Although Passamaquoddy's traditional lands
had been in Canada prior to the Revolution War, a treaty with Massachusetts
gives the tribe some parcels in Maine. The land was in appreciation
for the Indians' support during the war because they were no longer
welcome back in Canada. The treaty is never ratified by Congress
because both Massachusetts and the federal government viewed Maine
natives are "domesticated Indians," and not the federal government's
||Penobscots sign a treaty with Massachusetts
giving up claims to any lands except for Old Town Island and others
islands along a 30-mile stretch on the Penobscot River. In return,
they receive salt, corn, cloth, and ammunition. Subsequent treaties
further deplete their land holdings. Again, the treaties are never
ratified by Congress because the federal government did not consider
these Indians its responsibility.
||Maine becomes a state. Penobscots and
Passamaquoddies now become wards of the new state with reservations
at Indian Island, Pleasant Point and Peter Dana Point in eastern
Maine. These reservations are called "enclaves of disenfranchised
citizens bereft of any special status." Unlike the federal programs
for Western Indian tribes, there is a system of state-based care
for Eastern Indians (because they're considered "domesticated").
||Maine Indians, once predicted to become "extinct," are
now thriving in various professions. Despite the loss of land, hunting
and fur trading, many Indians are still in the woods working as lumbermen,
river drivers and guides. Some become legendary, such as Penobscots
Joseph Aitteon and Joe Polis who show Henry David Thoreau around
Moosehead and Chesuncook lakes, the Allagash, and up Mount Katahdin.
Other respected Indian guides were Louis Annance and Louis Bernard
of the Moosehead Lake area. Other Indians turn to selling crafts
to make a living. They set up summer camps in Bar Harbor or travel
in circuits and stop at several grand hotels, such as Poland Spring
House to peddle their baskets, beadwork, and war clubs to tourists.
||Traveling Indian medicine shows become
the rage. These shows move from town to town featuring war dances,
juggling, vaudeville acts and lectures on the virtues of Indian medicine.
One of the most popular is the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Show with
an eloquent and striking adopted Indian, Dr. John Johnson, getting
top billing. Kickapoo Indian Oil, Kickapoo Indian Sagwa (a blood
tonic), Kickapoo Cough Cure, and Kickapoo Worm Remedy were some of
the bestsellers. These potions could be mixed and bottled backstage
for about seven cents each, but sold for as much as a dollar. Oftentimes,
Indians would borrow the more dramatic tribal wear of Western Indians
and entertain the "sophisticates" in buckskin and war bonnets.
Sockalexis, a Penobscot born on Indian Island, becomes the
first American Indian to play for a Major League baseball team
when he is recruited by the Cleveland Spiders. After hitting .338
in his first season, Sockalexis dazzled sportswriters and fans
alike. Legend has it that the team is nicknamed, the Cleveland "Indians," as
a tribute to Sockalexis. The team officially changes its name in
||Andrew Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian
raised on Indian Island, is a long distance runner for the U.S. team
in the Fifth Olympics. He is the cousin of Louis Sockalexis, the
great baseball player.
|1920 - Present
||Despite the many challenges facing tribes,
including loss of land, they cling to ancient customs and beliefs.
Interest in political sovereignty and cultural history strengthens.
Spotted Elk (Molly Dellis Nelson), a Penobscot from Indian
Island, is a dancer, actress and writer known around the world.
Her most famous work is the film, "The Silent Enemy," an award-winning
documentary film about Native Canadian Ojibwas. She also performed
vaudeville in New York and danced for royalty and mingled with
the literary elite in Europe. In Paris, she found audiences more
appreciative of authentic Native American dance than in the U.S.
She married a French journalist, but during the German occupation
in 1940, had to flee France with her young daughter and return
||State of Maine recognizes tribes' aboriginal
rights to hunt and fish and offers free hunting and fishing licenses
to members of Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes.
||Members of Maine's two recognized tribes
are allowed to vote in national elections; it is the last state to
do so. Yet it's the only state to have tribal non-voting members
in the state legislature; one Penobscot and one Passamaquoddy.
||John Peters, a Passamaquoddy, finds a
copy of a 1794 treaty that shows his tribe lost 6,000 acres. His
attempt to discover what happened to the lost land eventually leads
to a lawsuit against the state in 1972.
||Department of Indian Affairs (DIA) is
established to develop and administer social, health and economic
programs for Maine's Indian tribes. At the time, Maine's DIA was
the first in the nation. However, many Indians who did not live on
the Penobscot or Passamaquoddy reservations were not able to receive
||Members of Maine's two recognized tribes
are allowed to vote in state elections. (They received the right
to vote in national elections in 1954.)
||The Passamaquoddy tribe and the Penobscot
Nation file a lawsuit claiming 12.5 million acres of land had been
taken from them in treaties that violated federal law (because they
were not ratified by Congress). The land in question comprises more
than two-thirds of the state of Maine.
||Micmac and Maliseet Indians are recognized
as tribes by the state, bringing the number of tribes to four. The
state of Maine also recognizes aboriginal rights to hunting and fishing
and gives tribal members free hunting and fishing licenses and special
educational scholarships. The state also opens a regional office
of the state's Department of Indian Affairs in northern Maine.
In an apparent reference to how the needs of Maine Indians
have been ignored, a DIA memorandum states "... to a striking
extent, the history and problems of Indians in Maine parallel
the history and problems of Negroes in the South."
||President Jimmy Carter signs the Maine
Indian Land Claims Settlement Act which acknowledges that Congress
never ratified treaties with Maine Indians. The Penobscots and
Passamaquoddies give up claims to millions of acres of land in
exchange for a $27 million trust fund and $51 million to buy 300,000
acres of land. The Act also established the Houlton Band of the
Maliseets as a federally recognized tribe and it receives $900,000
to buy 5,000 acres. Micmacs are left out of the Settlement Act.
The state terminates virtually all existing state services to Indians,
meaning Micmacs lose all they had gained in previous decades.
|1980 - Present
||The population of Indians in Maine doubles.
There's a renewed cultural awareness and anyone with at least one-quarter
Indian ancestry can legally join a tribe. Many hope that economic
development resulting from the Indian Land Claims Settlement Act
will improve opportunities for tribal members.
||Micmacs get federal recognition and $900,000
to buy land. (The tribe was excluded from the 1980 Indian Land Claims
||Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission,
established by the Indian Land Claims Settlement Act, struggles with
sovereignty and other contentious issues, such as fisheries, land-use
regulations and gambling casinos.