Maine extract from
John Reed Swanton's

The Indian Tribes of North America

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(Maine) Extract from

The Indian Tribes of North America

by John R. Swanton

Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145—1953

[726 pages—Smithsonian Institution]

(pp. 13-17)


Abnaki. Properly Wabanaki, "those living at the sunrise," "those living at the east," "easterners." Also called:

Alnanbai, own name, meaning "Indians," or "men."
Aquannaque, Wabanaki as pronounced by Huron.
Bashabas, name given them from a principal chief.
Gannon-gageh-ronnons, name given by Mohawk.
Moassones, from a name applied to their country; perhaps from Penobscot Maweshenook, "berry place."
ankamigdok epitsik arenanbak, "villages of the Narankamigdog," said to be a collective name for all the Abnaki villages.
Natio Luporum, "Wolf Nation."
Natságana, name given by Caughnawaga Iroquois.
Onagungees, Onnogonges, Anagonges, or Owenagunges, name given by the Iroquois.
Skacewanilom, name given by the Iroquois.
Tarrateens, name given by the tribes of southern New England.

Connections.The Abnaki belonged to the Algonquian linguistic family, their closest connections with their neighbors to the east and west. Indeed their name has very commonly been extended to include the Malecite, Penobscot, and Pennacook, and even the Micmac, though on the other hand the Sokoki have sometimes been left out.

Location.The main body was in western Maine, in the valleys of the Kennebec, Androscoggin, and Saco Rivers and on the neighboring coast, overlapping also into Carroll County, N. H. A single tribe, the Missiassik, was in northwestern Vermont, representing probably a late intrusion. (See also New Hampshire and Vermont.)


Amaseconti, on Sandy River, Franklin County.
Arosaguntacook, on the lower course of Androscoggin River.
Missiassik, in the valley of Missisquoi River, Franklin County, Vt.
Norridgewock, on Kennebec River.
Ossipee, on Ossipee River and Lake in Maine and New Hampshire.
Pequawket, on Lovell's Pond and the headwaters of Saco River, Maine and New Hampshire.
Rocameca, on the upper course of Androscoggin River.
Sokoki, on Saco River and in the adjacent parts of Cumberland and York Counties.
Wawenoc, on the seacoast of Sagadahoc, Lincoln, and Knox Counties.


Amaseconti; there were two villages of this tribe, at Farmington Falls and New Sharon, respectively.
Aquadocta, westward of Saco.
Arosaguntacook town, probably near Lewiston.
Cobbosseecontee, a town or band on the stream of that name, which empties into the Kennebec River at Gardiner.
Ebenecook, at Ebenecook Harbor, Southport Island.
Kennebec, between Augusta and Winslow.
Ketangheanycke, near the mouth of Kennebec River.
Masherosqueck, near the coast and not certainly Abnaki.
Mecadacut, on the coast between Penobscot and Kennebec Rivers.
Missiassik, belonging to the Missiassik tribe, on Lake Champlain at the mouth of Missisquoi River, Vt.
Moratiggon, probably on the Maine or New Hampshire coast and possibly not Abnaki.
Moshoquen, on or near the coast.
Muscongus, on the coast and probably near Muscongus Island.
Negusset, about the site of Woolwich.
Ossaghrage, Iroquois name of an Abnaki village.
Ossipee, probably on Ossipee Lake.
Ouwerage, probably on Ossipee Lake.
Pasharanack, probably on the coast.
Pauhuntanuc, probably on the coast.
Pemaquid, near Pemaquid, Lincoln County.
Pequawket town, about Fryeburg.
Pocopassum, probably on the coast.
Sabino, at the mouth of the Kennebec River, possibly on the west side.
Sagadahoc, at the mouth of the Kennebec River.
Satquin, on the coast southwest of the Kennebec River.
Segotago, probably identical with Sagadahoc.
Sowocatuck, perhaps the chief village of the Sokoki, Saco River.
Taconnet, at the falls of the Kennebec near Waterville.
Unyjaware, Iroquois name for an Abnaki village.
Wacoogo, probably on or near the coast.

History.The Abnaki and their neighbors claim to have immigrated into their historic seats from the southwest. Aside from possible Norse visitants in 1000-1010, John Cabot, during his second voyage in 1498, probably brought the first white men within sight of Abnaki territory, but he seems to have had no dealings with the people. From that time on, Breton, Basque, Norman, and English fishermen constantly visited the coast. In 1604 Champlain passed along it from north to south and visited several Abnaki bands, and in 1605 Waymouth penetrated the Wawenoc country. In 1607-08 came an abortive attempt on the part of the Plymouth Company to make a permanent settlement at the mouth of the Kennebec River, but it is probable that English fishermen were on Monhegan Island almost continuously after that date. Pemaquid was also occupied at an early period. The Abnaki were soon afterward missionized from Canada and became attached to the French interest. For a time they were successful in driving the English colonists away but later they suffered several severe defeats- particularly the capture of Norridgewock in 1724 and the defeat of the Pequawket in 1725 -- were much reduced in numbers, and finally withdrew to Canada where they were settled at Bécancour and Sillery, and later at St. Francis, along with other refugee tribes from the south.

Population.Mooney (1928) estimates this at 3,000 in 1600, including the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy. The St. Francis Indians, including remnants of other New England tribes, numbered 395 in 1903, and 280 in 1924.

Connection in which they have become noted.The activities of the missionary Rasles, compilation by him of the Abnaki dictionary, the destruction of Norridgewock, and the defeat of the Pequawket on Lovell Pond, as mentioned above, have made the Abnaki famous.

Malecite. They extended into the northeastern part of the State of Maine from Canada (q.v.).

Passamaquoddy. Signifying "Those who pursue the pollock," but strictly "pollock-plenty-place" (Eckstorm). Also called:

Machias Tribe, applied to some living on Machias River.
Quoddy, abbreviation of Passamaquoddy.
St. Croix Indians, from one of the rivers they inhabited.
Scotuks, from the name of the Sehoodic Lakes.
Unchechauge or Unquechauge.

Connections.The Passamaquoddy belong to the Algonquian linguistic family, their closest connections being the Malecite, and their more remote relatives the Abnaki, Penobscot, and Pennacook.

Location.On Passamaquoddy Bay, St. Croix River, and the Schoodic Lakes. (See also Canada.)


Gunasquamekook, on the site of St. Andrews, N.B.
Imnarkuan, on the site of Pembroke, Washington County.
Sebaik, at Pleasant Point, Passamaquoddy Bay, near Perry, Washington County.
Other towns were on Lewis Island and at Calais, in Maine, and on the New Brunswick side of St. Croix River.

History.The early history of the Passamaquoddy was identical with that of the Malecite (q.v.). When the territory of the 13 colonies was separated from English rule, the greater part of this tribe was left on the south side of the boundary. They enjoy, jointly with the Penobscot, the privilege of having a representative in the Maine State legislature, though he speaks only on matters of concern to the two tribes.

Population.The population of the Passamaquoddy was estimated at about 150 in 1726, 130 in 1804, 379 in 1825, 400-500 in 1859; and was enumerated as 386 in 1910. In 1930, 436 Indians were returned from Washington County, and practically all of these must have belonged to this tribe.

Connection in which they have become noted.The Passamaquoddy have given their name to Passamaquoddy Bay, which forms part of the eastern boundary of the State of Maine and are the easternmost body of Indians in the United States.

Pennacook. The Accominta and Newichawanoc of the extreme southwestern part of the State belonged to this tribe. (See New Hampshire.)

Penobscot. Meaning "the rocky place," or "the descending ledge place" (Eckstorm), referring to the falls between Oldtown and Bangor. Also called:

Pentagouet, from the name of their principal village near Castine.

Connections.The Penobscot belonged to the Algonquian linguistic stock, their nearest connections being the Abnaki, Passamaquoddy, Malecite, and Pennacook, with whom they were frequently classed under the name of the first mentioned.

Location.On both sides of Penobscot Bay and in the entire drainage area of Penobscot River.

Subdivisions: A body of Penobscot on Moosehead Lake were known as "Moosehead Lake Indians," but their separation from the rest was probably temporary.


Agguncia, said to have been a small settlement near Brewer, Penobscot County, from which the fabulous city of "Norumbega" derived its name.
Asnela, a settlement on an island of the same name in Penobscot Bay.
Catawamtek, at Rockland.
Kenduskeag, at Bangor, near the site of the Penobscot Exchange Hotel.
Mattawamkeag, about Mattawamkeag Point, Penobscot County.
Meecombe, on the lower course of Penobscot River.
Negas, in Penobscot County.
Olamon, on an island in Penobscot River near Greenbush.
Oldtown, the present village on an island of the same name.
Passadumkeag, on an island in Penobscot River near the present Passadumkeag.
Pentagouet, at or near Castine.
Precaute, on the southeast coast of Maine; it may have been a Passamaquoddy town.
Segocket, near the mouth of Penobscot River.
Wabigganus, probably near the mouth of the Penobscot River.

History.Native tradition brings the Penobscot from the southwest. They were encountered by French and English fishermen and explorers early in the sixteenth century, and one of their towns came to have a European reputation as a city of fabulous size and importance under the name of Norumbega. In the seventeenth century their chief, known to the Whites as Bashaba, seems to have extended his authority, probably his moral authority only, over the tribes to the westward as far as the Merrimac. The Penobscot were visited by Champlain in 1604 and by numerous later explorers. They assisted the French against the English until 1749, when they made peace and in consequence did not remove to Canada with the Abnaki. They have remained in their old country to the present day, their principal settlement being on Oldtown Island. Conjointly with the Passamaquoddy, they have a representative at the sessions of the Maine State legislature privileged to speak on tribal affairs only.

Population.The following are early estimates of the Penobscot population: 650 in 1726, 1,000 in 1736, 700 in 1753, 400 in 1759, 700 in 1765, 360 in 1786. According to the United States Census of 1910, there were 266, including 13 scattered outside of the State of Maine. The census of 1930 returned 301 Indians from Penobscot County, practically all belonging to this tribe.

Connection in which they have become noted.The Penobscot have given their name to a bay, a river, and a county in the State of Maine, to a post village in Hancock County, and a branch post office in Detroit. The title of the chief above mentioned, Bashaba or Bessebes, became the center of a myth among the Whites in which he was elevated to the dignity of a local king or emperor. The widely quoted myth of Norumbega should also be mentioned in this connection. This tribe and the Passamaquoddy constitute the only bodies of Indians of any size remaining in New England.