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Wabanaki Timeline: A New Dawn

Abbe : Research : Wabanaki : Timeline : A New Dawn


The Wabanaki are contemporary communities with distinct cultures and traditions. The Tribes are concerned with developing greater cultural and economic self-sufficiency, while maintaining age-old traditions.



June 28, 2006

Members of the United South and Eastern Tribes, including the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot endorse the principles described in the Kyoto Protocol.


The 24 federally recognized tribes have agreed to embrace the international environmental treaty that the current United States administration has rejected.



November, 2003Vote Yes on Resort Casino

In November of 2003 Maine voters overwhelming defeat a proposal by the Penobscot Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribe to open a casino in southern Maine.


The Referendum Question asked:

Do you want to allow a casino to be run by the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation if part of the revenue is used for state education and municipal revenue sharing?


The vote was 346,583 No to 170,500 Yes. The No vote backers argued that gambling was inconsistent with Maine lifestyles and that a casino would increase crime, gambling addiction and traffic. The Maine Tribes and other supporters countered that gambling profits would increase economic opportunity for rural Mainers and the Tribes and provide increased revenue for the state. In the same election, video lottery gambling at certain horse racing tracks passed by a vote of 272,394 to 242,490.



2003: EPA Action


The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves the State of Maine's application to administer and enforce wastewater discharge permits for most facilities in the State. The only exceptions are those that the EPA considers internal tribal matters.


This decision affects portions of the Penobscot and St. Croix Rivers that are considered to be part of the territories of the Penobscot Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribe.


In its decision the EPA asserts that provisions of the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act gave the State statutory authority to regulate environmental protection in the territories of the Penobscot Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribe that also affect non-Indians.


In response, Indian leaders file a federal court appeal seeking to overturn the decision. In a press conference, Penobscot Chief, Barry Dana said,"…[The EPA action] is another example of the continued lack of respect and recognition of tribal sovereignty, both in Maine and across the nation. As a sovereign people, we have no choice but to fight this ruling to protect our resources and our way of life."



2003: THPOs Appointed

The Penobscot Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribe appoint THPOs to manage tribal historic resources and to oversee cultural preservation programs.


THPOs are officially designated by federally recognized Indian Tribes and are responsible for the preservation of significant historic properties on tribal lands. THPOs conduct archaeological surveys to identify culturally significant properties and conduct environmental reviews of federal projects on tribal lands. Both Maine tribal historic preservation offices are involved with programs to preserve language and traditional cultural practices and to expand tribal museums.


To date, 48 Indian nations across the country have tribal historic preservation programs.



Jeremy Frey basket2003 MIBA 10th Anniversary

The Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA) celebrates ten years of revitalizing the art of basketmaking. Since its creation in 1993, the membership of skilled basketmakers in the Alliance has grown from 50 to 120, while the average age of MIBA members has dropped from 63 to 43.

Photo: Jeremy Frey basket, photo by Theresa Secord.






2003 Birchbark Canoe Revitalization ProjectBirchbark Canoe

Patrick Almenas, Penobscot, working on
a birchbark canoe built at Indian Island.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Almenas

Penobcots build birchbark canoe as revitalzation project.


When you learn the process of making the birch-bark canoe,
there's very little today that's different, in terms of process that
was done for thousands of years. Materials are identical, the final construction is identical, the process of doing the roots, the pitch, taking the bark off the tree, carving the cedar, everything is identical.

Barry Dana – Chief of the Penobscot Nation


Home the Story of Maine, Maine Public Broadcasting Network



2002: First State of the Tribes Address

Leaders of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Governor Richard Doyle and Governor Richard Stevens, along with Penobscot Nation Chief Barry Dana address a joint session of the State of Maine's legislature.This is the first ever State of the Tribes Address in Maine's 182-year history.


In their speeches, the leaders talked about the need for economic development in Indian communities and the importance of protecting water quality.


"Our rivers, our waters, are not just a resource, they are us," said Penobscot Chief Barry Dana. "Our waters are sacred, not just to the Penobscot, not just to the Passamaquoddy, Maliseets or Micmacs, but to all the people of Maine."


Read Chief Dana's speech >


Read Governor Doyle's speech >



2002: Buzz Off!

Alison Lewey

Alison Lewey

A Native owned company run by Maliseet / Passamaquoddy Alison Lewey, Lewey's Eco-Blends releases its flagship product throughout New England—an all-natural insect repellent. Based on Native herbal wisdom and a respect for the environment, Lewey's Eco-Blends is a leader in the insect repellent industry.





2001: LD291

An Act to Require the Teaching of Maine Native American History and Culture in Maine's Schools was passed by the 120th Maine Legislature and signed into law in June 2001. Sponsored by Penobscot Legislative Representative Donna Loring, the law requires public schools to teach about the Wabanaki in grades K-12.



2001: Toxic CadmiumPatch of the Passamaquoddy

Patch of the Passamaquoddy
Environmental Department at indian Township
Courtesy of Martin Dana

A study by the Passamaquoddy Tribe detects high levels of toxic cadmium in the livers of moose hunted by Passamaquoddy and Penobscot hunters.


Translation of Passamaquoddy words on patch:

Earth- Katahkomiq
Water- Samaqan
Wind- Wocawson







2001: "We are unique" Earth Day Speech

"Sovereignty is absolute. We are unique to this land. And with that uniqueness come special powers of sovereignty. We're still here today, and we're asserting our sovereignty. We're not going to go away." -Reuben "Butch" Phillips, Penobscot, Earth Day, 2001
(from the Bangor Daily News)



2000: Water Quality Documents Access

Tribal leaders of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation are held in contempt of court for refusing to turn over documents requested under a Freedom of Access request. The documents relate to discussions about water quality issues between the state and federal environmental protection agencies. The tribes claim that internal tribal matters are not subject to the state's freedom of access law.



2000: Place Name Changes Legislation

Place names in Maine that are derogatory to Wabanaki women are changed by state legislation proposed by Passamaquoddy Legislative Representative Donald Soctomah.


He also sponsors a bill to provide funding to monitor and protect Indian archaeological sites.



1998: Penobscot Woman Named "Miss Maine Basketball"

Andrea Pardilla, Penobscot, is named Miss Maine Basketball.



1998: Abbe Museum PerformanceAnne Akins Wood

Anne Akins Wood, Penobscot dancer, educator and elder, performs as Molly Molasses at the Abbe Museum.









1997: Houlton Maliseets Elect their First Woman ChiefBrenda Commander

Courtesy of Brenda Commander

Brenda Commander is elected as the first woman chief of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians.


The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians (HBMI) is comprised of some 800 members. HBMI has a farm and commercial land holdings in Aroostook County. Much of the land borders a significant amount of the Meduxnekeag River, a critical link in preserving tribal practices, traditions and history.



1997: Mary Mitchell Gabriel Recognized by NEAMary Mitchell Gabriel

Mary Mitchell Gabriel (1908-2004), Passamaquoddy basketmaker, is recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as a National Heritage Fellow.






2003 MIBA 10th Anniversary

1993: Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance Founded

The Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA) is established to to preserve the ancient tradition of ash and sweetgrass basketmaking among the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes. Founders were spurred on by decreasing numbers of skilled basketmakers, and the increasing average age of these artisans. Learn more about the MIBA >




1992: Indian Island Students Complete Award-Winning MovieKoluskap and his People

Still image frame from 1992 animated film "Koluskap and his People." Courtesy of Indian Island School

Indian Island School students complete one of three award winning animated movies in the collection "Frog Monster and other Penobscot stories" based on oral tradition.








Oral Tradition: Koluskap and His People

In the beginning there was just the sea and the forest - no people and no animals. Then Koluskap came. He possessed great magic. Out of the rocks, he made the Mihkomuwehsisok, small people who dwelt among the rocks and made wonderful music on the flute. Next Koluskap made the people. Wiith his bow he shot arrows into the trunks of Ash trees. Out of the trees stepped men and women. They were strong and graceful people with light brown skin and shining black hair. Koluskap called them Wabanaki, people of the dawn.


Adapted from The Algonquin Legends of New England

by Charles G. Leland, 1884




Micmacs1991: Aroostook Micmacs Receive Federal Recognition

Aroostook Band of Micmacs receives federal recognition. The Tribe was awarded $900,000 to purchase land.


Learn about the logo >

Aroostook Band of Micmac logo






1990: NAGPRA

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is signed into law, requiring federal agencies and museums to consult with Native communities regarding human remains and culturally significant objects held in public institutions.



1988: Dragon Cement

The Passamaquoddy Tribe sells Dragon Cement Plant, Thomaston, Maine, a tribally run company started with settlement funds from the 1980 Land Claims. The Tribe secures a $60 million profit.


Dragon Cement is New England's only cement manufacturer.



Blueberry Logo1982: Northeast Blueberry Company

Blueberry HatPassamaquoddy Tribe, with Land Claims settlement funds, buys one of the largest blueberry farms in Maine.


"Today, Northeast Blueberry Co. employs 20 tribal members year-round, and about 800 seasonal workers in the summer who rake the blueberry barrens by hand, said manager Darrell Newell. It yields about $500,000 each year, much of which is reinvested in the business, he said."


Each summer, hundreds of Mi'kmaq from Eastern Canada travel to the Northeast Blueberry Company to work as seasonal blueberry harvesters. Unlike Wyman's and Cherryfield Foods, Inc, two large blueberry companies in Maine, the Passamaquoddy have long resisted mechanization—replacing seasonal workers with mechanical harvesters. Instead, they have promised the Mi' kmaq that as long as they continue to come work for the season, Northeast Blueberry Company will continue to harvest their blueberries by hand.



1981: Katahdin 100Barry Sneakers

The first Katahdin 100 Run, a spiritual journey from Indian Island to Mt. Katahdin, is made by members of the Penobscot Nation.










1980: Maine Indian Land Claims SettledCarter Signs Claims

Maine Indian Land Claims is settled when the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and Maliseet tribes agree to abandon their claim to ownership of nearly two-thirds of the state in exchange for trust and land acquisition funds.


Read Diana Scully's Paper on the Land Claims (PDF).






1975: Federal Recognition

Penobscot Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribe recieve Federal Recognition.



1972: Scholarship Program Established

Scholarship program for Native students is established at the University of Maine at Orono.



1971: Traditional Art ClassesStan Neptune

Joe Dana

Senebeh Francis, master Penobscot carver, teaches the traditional art of root club carving to Stan Neptune (left).


Today, Stan is nationally recognized as a carver, and has taught his son, Joe Dana (right).






1968: Vietnam War

Donna Loring

"The only picture I have of myself in Vietnam was taken with me in civilian clothes outside the main office of the WAC Det. The picture was taken by Terry Lolar, a member of the Penobscot Nation who
was also stationed in Vietnam. He had just come out of the field.
The picture was taken in 1968; that was the year of the big Tet Offensive. I was nineteen years old at the time."
-Donna Loring, Penobscot, Vietnam War Veteran



1967: Right to Vote

Native people in Maine are given the right to vote in Maine state elections.



1965: Cultural PrideJoseph Nicholas

Joseph Nicholas at the 2002 Native American Festival in Bar Harbor.

Joseph Nicholas, Passamaquoddy, begins programs to instill cultural pride in Passamaquoddy youth through language and traditional dance.
















1957: 1794 Treaty Found

1794 Treaty

Louise Sockabesin finds a copy of the 1794 treaty between the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the State of Massachussetts in a shoe box. Tribal leader John Stevens would later use this treaty to back up tribal claims that huge tracts of Passamaquoddy land had been illegally taken from them. He initiates the land claims case that is finally settled in 1980.









1954-1955: Right to Vote in Federal Elections

Right to Vote in Federal Elections

(Bangor Daily News File Photo by Danny Maher) (Picture of the Past sponsored by Susie Saver)
Courtesy Bangor Daily News

Native people are given the right to vote in federal elections in
1954. The first federal election after the right was granted
occurred the following year, in 1955.


The first eligible presidential election was in 1956.


The caption for this picture reads:

"Princess Watawaso of the Penobscot Indian Tribe at Old
Town casts the first vote of an Indian on a reservation in Maine in 1955. The only Indians who voted previously were those who moved to cities and started paying taxes. Behind the Princess is her husband, Chief Bruce Poolaw. Clerks
(left to right) are Mrs. Mary Cross and Mrs. Hollis Monaghan."











1950: Indian Island Bridge

First Bridge

Courtesy of Bunny McBride

A one-lane bridge is built connecting Indian Island to the mainland at Old Town.









1950: Mechanical Potato Harvester

Potato Harvester

Nora Estabrook, Maliseet, picking potatoes
in Houlton, Maine. She began picking
when she was seven years old.

Mechanical potato harvester is introduced, gradually diminishing the need both for hand pickers and Indian-made harvesting baskets.


By 1990, only 15% of Maine's potato crop is picked by hand.

GlooscapQuick Links

Hard Times – The Survival of the People (1950 - 1800)

Resistance – Making War & Negotiating Peace (1796 - 1675)

Strangers in the Land – European Contact (1675 - 1500)

Time of Dawn (500 - 12,000 years ago)

Return to Main Timeline Page


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