Native Americans have lived in Maine for thousands of years. They are here today, and their story extends back, some say, to time immemorial.
“We Welcome You”
In historic times, we, the ckuwaponahkiyik, used this island as a central meeting place to trade, hunt, and fish with one another during the summers. We called the island Pesamkuk, and Bar Harbor itself was known as moneskatik—the Clam Digging Place. The central meeting place on the island was called astuwiku—“it comes together”—and located near modern day Northeast Harbor.
One summer, visitors arrived that would change our way of life forever. They brought with them different technologies and philosophies, and we were forced to make a choice: adapt and survive, or resist and perish. We chose to learn from our surroundings and incorporate these new teachings, in order to keep our traditions alive for future generations.
We succeeded. We are still here. Our cultures and languages are alive and well. This birchbark canoe represents thousands of years of traditional knowledge handed down from generation to generation. While it was constructed in 2013, this canoe is nearly identical to the ones used to greet French visitors to Pesamkuk over four-hundred years ago. Pesamkuk has undergone many changes since that time, as has the land now called Maine. But just as our ancestors did with Samuel Champlain in 1604, kulasihkulpon: we welcome you.
Today, the four Maine Indian tribes are the Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy, known collectively as the Wabanaki, "People of the Dawnland." Each community maintains its own tribal government, community schools, cultural center and each manages its respective lands and natural resources. Although most of Maine's Native people belong to one of these four federally recognized groups and reside on tribal lands, other Native people live in towns and cities across the State.
Aroostook Band of Micmacs
The Aroostook Band of Micmacs finally received federal recognition in 1991 after a long process of research and petition to the U.S. government. The name Micmac is from mi'kmaq, derivation uncertain: possible "our kin-friends" or "people of the red earth." Visit their website ›
Houlton Band of Maliseets
The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians received federal recognition in 1980. Since then, they have built a tribal center on their lands along the Meduxnekeag River near Houlton. Many Maliseets refer to themselves as Wolastoqiyik, "people of the Saint John River." Visit their website ›