Twelve Thousand Years: American Indians in Maine

Twelve Thousand Years: American Indians in Maine

Twelve Thousand Years: American Indians in Maine

Twelve Thousand Years: American Indians in Maine

Synopsis

Twelve Thousand Years: American Indians in Maine documents the generations of Native peoples who for twelve millennia have moved through and eventually settled along the rocky coast, rivers, lakes, valleys, and mountains of a region now known as Maine. Arriving first to this area were Paleo-Indian peoples, followed by maritime hunters, more immigrants, then a revival of maritime cultures. Beginning in the sixteenth century, Native peoples in northern New England became tangled in the far-reaching affairs of European explorers and colonists. Twelve Thousand Years reveals how Penobscots, Abenakis, Passamaquoddies, Maliseets, Micmacs, and other Native communities both strategically accommodated and overtly resisted European and American encroachments. Since that time, Native communities in Maine have endured, adapted when necessary, and experienced a political and cultural revitalization in recent decades.

Excerpt

This book is a product of museum anthropology. It grew out of plans for a comprehensive long-term exhibition on Native history that opened at the Maine State Museum in 1991. Two decades earlier, as I was building the collections of the then new museum and beginning research for the exhibition, it quickly became apparent that our knowledge about the region's Native peoples was both limited and fragmentary. Though archaeologists had gained fascinating insights into specific prehistoric cultures, no coherent cultural history had yet been constructed. Little had been written about sixteenth-century Native peoples in the period following the arrival of Europeans beyond the observation that they had won their first two wars against English colonists, had lost the next three wars, and had ultimately been forced onto reservations in Maine and adjacent parts of Canada as settlers swarmed into their former homelands. Moreover, the history of the French who occupied what is now eastern Maine in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was only beginning to be understood.

This situation has since changed due to a resurgence of archaeological and ethnohistorical research across the Northeast. Recent years have also seen a revival of interest in colonial history among both scholars and members of the public. in general, however, much of what has been written to date about the history of Native peoples in Maine has stressed continuity and tradition. As a result, these narratives have tended to be neither far- reaching nor dynamic in their outlook. Rather, they have been stories of adaptation and survival in which the driving forces of change are presented as largely external to Native communities. Thus, the precontact history of Maine has been understood as a more or less predictable sequence of responses to climatic change and to a challenging natural environment. Events . . .

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