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Wabanaki History - A Timeline

Abbe : Research : Wabanaki : Timeline
Wabankaki Timeline

Penobscot elder, Rueben "Butch" Phillips studies the Wabanaki Timeline at the Abbe Museum.
Photo by Peter Travers

Native Americans have lived in Maine for thousands of years. Their story begins today and extends back, some say, to time immemorial.


Much of their history is based on oral tradition.


What is oral tradition?

Wabanaki oral tradition includes origin stories that tell how the People and the world came to be; it also includes stories, tales and songs that define society and tell people how they should live. In the past, Native people used oral tradition, rather than the written word, to pass on traditional knowledge. Many of the stories were retold and written down in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, these transcripts provide a rich resource for Wabanaki storytellers to recreate and teach about traditional culture. Programs to perpetuate and rekindle Wabanaki languages rely on the power of traditional stories for teaching material. The stories build bridges between the past and present and provide a mechanism for cultural continuity.


Throughout this timeline you will encounter oral tradition.



Click on any link, below, to learn the Wabanaki history of that period.

• A New Dawn (Present - 1950) Learn this History

• Hard Times – The Survival of the People (1950 - 1800) Learn this History

• Resistance – Making War & Negotiating Peace (1796 - 1675) Learn this History

• Strangers in the Land – European Contact (1675 - 1500) Learn this History

• Time of Dawn (500 - 12,000 years ago) Learn this History



Explore the Abbe Museum's Online Curriculum:
"Wabanaki People – A Story of Cultural Continuity"


Online Curriculum >




Glooscap is the main figure in Wabanaki creation stories and legends.


He made the world habitable for human beings and taught people to live wisely.
Glooscap stories have been told and retold over many generations. In the 1800s
Tomah Joseph etched the stories in birchbark. Today, Wabanaki children create video animations of Glooscap's heroic activities.


You will see his name spelled in many ways, including: Koluskap, Gluskap, Keloskape, Glooskap and Gluskabe.

Dial: (207) 288-3519


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