Penobscot (American Indians Ready Reference)
The Penobscot, of the eastern branch of the Abenaki family, whose name means “the rocky place,” live along the river and the bay that bear their name on the Maine coast.
Tradition says that prophesies foretold the coming of white men who would bring a time of trouble because of their desire for the land. Unlike some other Abenaki groups that gave up their New England homelands and migrated north under pressure from white settlers, the Penobscot remained in their original area. During the American Revolution, the Penobscot helped turn back the British, and Chief Joseph Orono was rewarded with a visit to Boston and Newport, Rhode Island.
Their traditional lifestyle began to die out in the early 1800's, as overhunting and increased lumbering diminished the profitable fur trade and traditional game hunting. The Great Miramicki Fire in 1825 destroyed much of the Maine woodland; disease also took its toll on the tribe. Under economic and political pressure, the Penobscot sold much of their land. The last lifetime chief was Joseph Atteau, chosen in 1858, who is mentioned as a guide by Henry David Thoreau in his book The Maine Woods (1864).
By the beginning of the twentieth century, many of the Penobscot lived in poverty and isolation on an island in the river near Old Town. The state granted Indians voting privileges only in 1954—the last state to do so. In 1965, Maine became the first state to establish a Department of...
(The entire section is 307 words.)
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