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Timeline Of Native American Culture
A Timeline Of Native American Culture – 1700′s to 2000′s
1701 Facing the aggressive expansion of British colonists, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac begin to formalize a council known as the Wabanaki Confederacy. As “brothers” in the Wabanaki family, the allied Indians call upon each other to help fight outside enemies. As told in a Passamaquoddy narrative:
Long ago, the Indians were always fighting against each other. They struck one another bloodily. There were many men, women and children who alike were tormented by these constant battles…It seemed as if all were tired of how they had lived wrongly. The great chiefs said to the others, “Looking back from here the way we have come, we see that we have left bloody tracks. We see many wrongs. And as for these bloody hatchets, and bows, arrows, they must be buried forever.” Then they all set about deciding to join with one another in a confederacy.
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The Confederacy had its own symbol on a wampum belt, which had four white triangles on a blue background, signifying the union of four allied tribes. In times of need, envoys took this belt to invite allies “to take up the hatchet against the enemies of the nation.”
1703 – 1713 Third Anglo-Wabanaki War (Queen Anne’s War) also has European roots. Following orders from the French Crown, Canada’s governor declares war on neighboring English colonists.
1721-1726 Fourth Anglo-Wabanaki War (Dummer’s or Lovewell’s War) is a local war of Indians reacting to British encroachment. English attack and burn many Indian villages, including Norridgewock and Old Town. Indians retaliate by destroying English settlements on lower Kennebec.
1744-1748 Fifth Anglo-Wabanaki War (King George’s War) begins after France declares war on Britain, and the conflict spills over into northeast America. English declare war on Micmacs and Maliseets.
1755-1760 Sixth Anglo-Wabanaki War (French & Indian or Seven Years War) breaks out after France and Britain wage war again and the conflict intensifies hostilities in colonial North America.
1763 French and Indian Wars end with the Treaty of Paris which forces France to give Canada (New France & Acadia) to England. Many Wabanaki homelands are included in the swap but without the Indians’ consent.
1777 Eastern Maine Indians reluctantly take up arms during the Revolutionary War. Some Maliseets and Passamaquoddies (Etchemin) joined British troops during the Revolutionary War, but more were likely to support Colonists. At the Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Reservation there’s a monument (placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution) honoring the Indians who fought with the Colonists against the British.
1790 Historians incorrectly assume that since so many Wabanaki have relocated to Jesuit missions in Canada, they would become “extinct” in Maine.
Many of the Wabanaki from Maine end up in St. Francois-du-lac, Becancour, and Sillery in Quebec province with Canadian Abanaki. Since traditional Wabanaki are oral languages and not written ones, historical records are hard to come by. Many tribal stories about cultural heroes and wampum belts with glyphs that tell about past events begin to disappear.
1794 Although Passamaquoddy’s traditional lands had been in Canada prior to the Revolution War, a treaty with Massachusetts gives the tribe some parcels in Maine. The land was in appreciation for the Indians’ support during the war because they were no longer welcome back in Canada. The treaty is never ratified by Congress because both Massachusetts and the federal government viewed Maine natives are “domesticated Indians,” and not the federal government’s responsibility.
1796 Penobscots sign a treaty with Massachusetts giving up claims to any lands except for Old Town Island and others islands along a 30-mile stretch on the Penobscot River. In return, they receive salt, corn, cloth, and ammunition. Subsequent treaties further deplete their land holdings. Again, the treaties are never ratified by Congress because the federal government did not consider these Indians its responsibility.
1820 Maine becomes a state. Penobscots and Passamaquoddies now become wards of the new state with reservations at Indian Island, Pleasant Point and Peter Dana Point in eastern Maine. These reservations are called “enclaves of disenfranchised citizens bereft of any special status.” Unlike the federal programs for Western Indian tribes, there is a system of state-based care for Eastern Indians (because they’re considered “domesticated”).
1850 Maine Indians, once predicted to become “extinct,” are now thriving in various professions. Despite the loss of land, hunting and fur trading, many Indians are still in the woods working as lumbermen, river drivers and guides. Some become legendary, such as Penobscots Joseph Aitteon and Joe Polis who show Henry David Thoreau around Moosehead and Chesuncook lakes, the Allagash, and up Mount Katahdin. Other respected Indian guides were Louis Annance and Louis Bernard of the Moosehead Lake area. Other Indians turn to selling crafts to make a living. They set up summer camps in Bar Harbor or travel in circuits and stop at several grand hotels, such as Poland Spring House to peddle their baskets, beadwork, and war clubs to tourists.
1880 Traveling Indian medicine shows become the rage. These shows move from town to town featuring war dances, juggling, vaudeville acts and lectures on the virtues of Indian medicine. One of the most popular is the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Show with an eloquent and striking adopted Indian, Dr. John Johnson, getting top billing. Kickapoo Indian Oil, Kickapoo Indian Sagwa (a blood tonic), Kickapoo Cough Cure, and Kickapoo Worm Remedy were some of the bestsellers. These potions could be mixed and bottled backstage for about seven cents each, but sold for as much as a dollar. Oftentimes, Indians would borrow the more dramatic tribal wear of Western Indians and entertain the “sophisticates” in buckskin and war bonnets.
1897 Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot born on Indian Island, becomes the first American Indian to play for a Major League baseball team when he is recruited by the Cleveland Spiders. After hitting .338 in his first season, Sockalexis dazzled sportswriters and fans alike. Legend has it that the team is nicknamed, the Cleveland “Indians,” as a tribute to Sockalexis. The team officially changes its name in 1915.
1912 Andrew Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian raised on Indian Island, is a long distance runner for the U.S. team in the Fifth Olympics. He is the cousin of Louis Sockalexis, the great baseball player.
1920 – Present Despite the many challenges facing tribes, including loss of land, they cling to ancient customs and beliefs. Interest in political sovereignty and cultural history strengthens.
1930 Molly Spotted Elk (Molly Dellis Nelson), a Penobscot from Indian Island, is a dancer, actress and writer known around the world. Her most famous work is the film, “The Silent Enemy,” an award-winning documentary film about Native Canadian Ojibwas. She also performed vaudeville in New York and danced for royalty and mingled with the literary elite in Europe. In Paris, she found audiences more appreciative of authentic Native American dance than in the U.S. She married a French journalist, but during the German occupation in 1940, had to flee France with her young daughter and return to Maine.
1937 State of Maine recognizes tribes’ aboriginal rights to hunt and fish and offers free hunting and fishing licenses to members of Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes.
1954 Members of Maine’s two recognized tribes are allowed to vote in national elections; it is the last state to do so. Yet it’s the only state to have tribal non-voting members in the state legislature; one Penobscot and one Passamaquoddy.
Mid-1950s John Peters, a Passamaquoddy, finds a copy of a 1794 treaty that shows his tribe lost 6,000 acres. His attempt to discover what happened to the lost land eventually leads to a lawsuit against the state in 1972.
1965 Department of Indian Affairs (DIA) is established to develop and administer social, health and economic programs for Maine’s Indian tribes. At the time, Maine’s DIA was the first in the nation. However, many Indians who did not live on the Penobscot or Passamaquoddy reservations were not able to receive benefits.
1967 Members of Maine’s two recognized tribes are allowed to vote in state elections. (They received the right to vote in national elections in 1954.)
1972 The Passamaquoddy tribe and the Penobscot Nation file a lawsuit claiming 12.5 million acres of land had been taken from them in treaties that violated federal law (because they were not ratified by Congress). The land in question comprises more than two-thirds of the state of Maine.
1973 Micmac and Maliseet Indians are recognized as tribes by the state, bringing the number of tribes to four. The state of Maine also recognizes aboriginal rights to hunting and fishing and gives tribal members free hunting and fishing licenses and special educational scholarships. The state also opens a regional office of the state’s Department of Indian Affairs in northern Maine.
In an apparent reference to how the needs of Maine Indians have been ignored, a DIA memorandum states “… to a striking extent, the history and problems of Indians in Maine parallel the history and problems of Negroes in the South.”
1980 President Jimmy Carter signs the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act which acknowledges that Congress never ratified treaties with Maine Indians. The Penobscots and Passamaquoddies give up claims to millions of acres of land in exchange for a $27 million trust fund and $51 million to buy 300,000 acres of land. The Act also established the Houlton Band of the Maliseets as a federally recognized tribe and it receives $900,000 to buy 5,000 acres. Micmacs are left out of the Settlement Act. The state terminates virtually all existing state services to Indians, meaning Micmacs lose all they had gained in previous decades.
1980 – Present The population of Indians in Maine doubles. There’s a renewed cultural awareness and anyone with at least one-quarter Indian ancestry can legally join a tribe. Many hope that economic development resulting from the Indian Land Claims Settlement Act will improve opportunities for tribal members.
1991 Micmacs get federal recognition and $900,000 to buy land. (The tribe was excluded from the 1980 Indian Land Claims Settlement Act.)
2000 Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission, established by the Indian Land Claims Settlement Act, struggles with sovereignty and other contentious issues, such as fisheries, land-use regulations and gambling casinos