Maine Indian Tribes
FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED MAINE TRIBES
(Federal List Last Updated 5/16)
Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians
Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians of Maine
Passamaquoddy Tribe of Maine
Penobscot Tribe of Maine
STATE RECOGNIZED TRIBES
(Not recognized by the Federal Government)
UNRECOGNIZED / PETITIONING TRIBES
Wesget Sipu Inc. Letter of Intent to Petition 6/4/2002
FIRST CONTACT TO PRESENT
When European settlers came to the region in the early 17th century, they encountered the Abnakis and the Etchimins, two major divisions of the Algonkian nation.
These Native Americans moved several times each year, following the available food supply. In the spring they fished in the rivers and planted crops of corn, squash and beans along the riverbanks.
Early summer brought them to the coastal areas, and by September they returned to harvest their crops.
The coming of winter found them venturing deep into the forests of Maine to hunt for game.
PRE-CONTACT MAINE TRIBES
MAINE WABANAKI NOW IN CANADA
PRE-HISTORIC CULTURES IN MAINE
11,500 years ago, the Paleo Indians settled in Maine.
3000 BC – Maine’s earliest dwellers were known as the “Red Paint” people, so named because of the red clay with which they lined the graves of their dead.
The region’s earliest inhabitants were descendants of Ice Age hunters. Little is known of these Red Paint people, except that they flourished and hunted in Maine long before the coming of the Micmac and Abenaki Indian nations.
They left behind scattered bits of bone and stone that are among the oldest archeological treasures in North America.
Another unnamed Ice Age tribe left huge oyster shell heaps on the Damariscotta estuary, which testify to the diets of early Maine people. Archeologists estimate that these heaps – remnants of ancient shellfish dinners – are between one and five thousand years old.
Arrowheads and tools found within these heaps are distinctly different from those of the Red Paint People.
1000 A.D. – Norse sailors, led by Leif Erikson, arrive in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Evidence suggests that they may have reached as far south as Maine.
1497 – John Cabot sights land near Cape Breton and claims it for King Henry VII.
1524 – Giovanni da Verranzano became the first confirmed European to explore the coast of Maine.
1597 – Simon Ferdinando, a Portugese Navigator, working for the British Crown, lands on the coast of Maine, looking for treasure.
Of Maine’s two earliest Indian nations, the Micmacs of eastern Maine and New Brunswick were largely a warlike people, while the more numerous Abnakis (or Wabanakis) were a peaceful nation, given to farming and fishing as a way of life.
But their numbers began to diminish rapidly due to increasing conflict with the white man, wars with other invading tribes, and disease. Of the dozens of Algonkian Indian tribes that once inhabited Maine, only two remain – the Penobscot and the Passamaquoddies.
Sources of records on US Indian tribes