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The Penobscot (Panawahpskek) are a sovereign people indigenous to what is now Maritime Canada and the northeastern United States, particularly Maine. They were and are significant participants in the historical and present Wabanaki Confederacy along with the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Mi'kmaq nations.
The word "Penobscot" originates from a mispronunciation of their name "Penawapskewi." The word means "rocky part" or "descending ledges" and originally referred to the portion of the Penobscot River between Old Town and Bangor. The tribe has adopted the name Penobscot Indian Nation.
Penobscot is also the name of the dialect of Eastern Abenaki (an Algonquian language) that the Penobscot people speak
Our name is derived by Vetromile from the Pānnawānbskek, 'it forks on the white rocks,' or Penobscot, 'it flows on rocks’. My tribe connected to the Abnaki confederacy (q. v.), closely related in language and customs to the Norridgewock. They are sometimes included in the most numerous tribe of the Abnaki confederacy, and for a time more influential than the Norridgewock. My tribe has occupied the country on both sides of Penobscot bay and river, and claimed the entire basin of Penobscot river. Our summer resort was near the sea, but during the winter and spring we inhabited lands near the falls, where we still reside today, My tribes principal modern village being called Oldtown, on Indian island, a few miles above Bangor, in Penobscot county.
There was a section of my tribe that moved to Moosehead Lake, They were popularly known as Moosehead Lake Indians. The Penobscot Indians of this tribe always encountered navigators before the middle of the 17th century. My tribe was often visited by French navigators and fishermen from the Great Bank and that they built there before 1555 a fort or settlement. When more thorough exploration began in the 17th century my Penobscot chief, known as Bashaba (a term probably equivalent to head-chief), seems to have had primacy over all the New England tribes southward to the Merrimac. After the war my tribe joined our emigrant tribesmen in Canada, and they now constitute the only important body of Indians remaining in New England excepting the Passamaquoddy. My tribes count in numbers estimates within the present century give them from 300 to 400 souls. They now number about 410.
Where we Originated From and Live today.
The Penobscot Indian Island Reservation is surrounded by the waters of the Penobscot River, in Penobscot County, Maine.
How to Cite this Page
"Penobscot Indain History." 123HelpMe.com. 13 Dec 2019
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Mount Katahdin remains a sacred place for these people, and as such travel to the top of the mountain is considered taboo. It is believed that an angry god resides in Pamola Peak. Pamola is a lower god in the spiritual belief system of the Penawapskewi. Pamola was an angry god, and because of his trickster behavior, was sent to Mt. Katahdin for eternity by the power of the highest god, Gluskab.
These people have a prehistoric tie to the river, such that it long ago became a part of their identity . The name of their tribe is the name of a place on the river where they spent most of their time throughout the year, a place "where the white rocks are," also identified as "where the river widens.
The insignia of this tribe, evidenced in their art and design, is the fiddlehead, in this case an immature frond of the Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris L.) that grows along the banks of the Penobscot River. Fiddleheads of this fern are a delicacy and are one of the first "blooms" appearing after the harsh winters of the region, thus considered a gift from a spiritual higher power: a reward for having survived the winter.
This tribe became federally recognized through the Maine Land Claims Act, signed on March 15, 1980 Under the terms of the agreement, the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes received a settlement of $81.5 million in return for relinquishing their rights to 19,500 square miles, for roughly 60% of the state of Maine. They mostly live on a reservation at Indian Island, which is near Old Town.
Handbook of American Indians, (1906) 2004-2008
Last retrived 10-12-2008
Native Languages of the Americas website 1998-2007
Last retrived 10-12-2008