Native American History, Culture, and Current Issues

Acadia Park Kayak Tours

Native Americans have lived in this area of Maine for more than ten thousand years.  Of the five Wabanaki (people of the dawn) tribes that have traditionally lived in Maine, Mount Desert Island sits right on the border between what are the traditional territories of the Penobscot and Passamquaoddy nations.  These people actually have different names for themselves but this is how they are most commonly known in the modern era.

The Natives Americans preferred certain locations during certain seasons and were here on Mount Desert Island mostly in the summer.

Just as we enjoy the natural beauty of the area from our kayaks the Native Americans enjoyed and still enjoy paddling along the shores and islands in their birch bark canoes.  In fact it is now known that the Native people would paddle along the shore as far north as Canada and as far inland through inland waterways as Vermont and farther (they could portage their amazingly light canoes by hand between different waterways).

It was common for the Native people here and in other parts of Maine to act as guides for those new to the area and for visitors looking to explore the bays, inland waters, and trails of the state and this is something that I and the guides that work with me have in common with them.

If you would like to know more about the history and culture of the Native Americans from here the best place to start is the Abbe museum in town.

Abbe Museum

The Mission of the Abbe Museum is to promote the understanding and appreciation of Maine's Native American culture, history, and archaeology. The Museum's collections, exhibitions, and programs focus on Native American traditions in Maine Harbor.  Located in downtown Bar Harbor.

If possible you should consider timing your vacation to coincide with the Native American Arts Festival held by the Maine Indian Basket Makers Alliance or just be sure to go to it if you are here when it is being held.

Native American Festival

Free and open to the public, this popular event draws a wide variety of enthusiastic visitors year after year ranging from professional basket collectors to vacationers to local residents. Co-hosted by the Abbe Museum, the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, and the College of the Atlantic, the festival is considered Maine's largest annual gathering of Native American artists. Meet the artists while learning about and purchasing Wabanaki baskets, carvings, beadwork, dolls and other of handmade items. The day-long event includes Native music, dance, storytelling, craft demonstrations and food.

After visiting the above attractions if you want to keep learning about the Native American history of Maine here a a few web sites you may want to visit-

Penobscot Culture

The Penobscot Nation’s cultural department website is a beautiful site and a great resource where you can listen to their language online, schedule a tour of the reservation, and purchase handmade Penobscot art among other things.  It is an especially great resource for teachers who may wish to include lessons plans in their curriculum about the Native American history and culture of Maine.

Passamaquoddy Indian Township

The website of the Indian Township tribal government of the Passamaquoddy

Passamaquoddy Pleasant Point

The website of the Indian Point tribal government of the Passamaquoddy

Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians

The website of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians