Date of Award

5-1998

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Advisor

Jacques Ferland

Second Committee Member

Richard Judd

Third Committee Member

Theodore Mitchell

Abstract

Throughout the nineteenth century in the United States, Native American and European cultures were often in conflict, consequently, Native Americans found it necessary to transform their traditional practices in order to adhere to the ever-changing environment These transformations included altering their hunting and gathering patterns since land speculators and industrialists appropriated the land and its resources, and encouraged agricultural development. They had to reconstruct their religion to fit the new Christian worldview They also had to rethink the role of traditional tribal politics in order to adhere to the laws of emerging governments. Native Americans throughout the United States were experiencing many of the same problems as white American expansion continued, but the focus of this paper will be upon the Penobscot Indians, a group within the Abenaki family of the Northeast. My thesis examines the relationship, which was an ongoing interaction, that developed between the Penobscot Indians and the State of Maine in the three decades following statehood The relationship they shared with Maine was similiar to the one they had with Massachusetts, it just became more refined. By researching the legislation and executive decisions concerning the natives, the petitions to the Governor and Council from many tribal members, and numerous secondary sources, the paper will focus on four central issues which include territorial matters, political representation, the equitable management of tribal resources, and the concepts of acculturation and assimilation.

The study of Native Americans has acquired greater significance amongst historians, but many tribal histories, such as the nineteenth-century Penobscot, deserve further research; consequently, I have chosen to do my research on the Penobscot Indians. I chose this particular tribe because my life has been spent only a few miles from their reservation, and I have become interested in the young Native Americans with whom I am acquainted. The period of concern extends from Maine statehood in 1820 to approximately 1849 when the bulk of native petitions were sent to Augusta. This period in Penobscot history appealed to me because it is an area that is often overlooked in recent studies in Maine history. Indian history should be incorporated into other areas of history, not just in matters of the first European contact or during war times. Even when war was no longer a threat, Native Americans continued to be historical actors despite their smaller numbers and dwindling resources. Yes, Maine became a state in 1820, but what was happening in regards to Maine Indians is one question that usually is left unanswered.

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