The Exploration of Norumbega: Native Perspectives
THE HISTORY OF INDIAN-EUROPEAN RELATIONS IN COLOnial North America encompasses a wide variety of native groups, geographies, and contact situations, all evolving over time. Why and how choose one group or situation over another? How and why select one period over another? Answers will vary with historians because personal predilection -- brewed from parentage, education, experience, rational calculation, and inexplicable likes and dislikes -- plays a large role, not so much in historians' interpretations or results (if they are well trained in their craft) as in their choice of subject and general approach to it. Sometimes the subject is chosen for them, as when a conference organizer, publisher, or journal editor invites them to tackle a theme for a special occasion.
In 1988 predilection and solicitation combined to induce me to write the following essay for an NEH-sponsored conference on "The Land of Norumbega: Maine in the Age of Exploration and Settlement" in Portland. It is no coincidence that our favorite summer vacation spot is Mt. Desert Island, Maine, which Samuel de Champlain, one of my favorite colonists, explored and renamed in 1604. Portland in December admittedly is not Northeast Harbor in July, but the opportunity to enjoy a bona fide seafood dinner out of season, to re-read closely the earliest records of contact in northern New England, and to hobnob with