About the Native People of Maine

Native people have lived in the area now called Maine for many thousands of years. And as in all cultures, and evidenced in the archaeological record, technologies and traditions changed over time.

The first encounters between Native Americans and Europeans in the 1500s and 1600s, for instance, brought about far reaching changes in the lives of all involved. For Native people, disease, increased warfare, different tools and technologies, and new religions would change their cultures forever. Despite all of these changes, the Wabanaki people have persisted. Many of their early traditions have survived and continue to be important in lives of present day communities.

Today, the four Indian tribes who call Maine home are the Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy, known collectively as the Wabanaki, "People of the Dawnland." Each community maintains its own tribal government, community schools, and cultural center and each manages its respective lands and natural resources. Although most of Maine's Native people belong to one of these four federally recognized groups and reside on tribal lands, other Native people live in towns and cities across the State.

Learn more about the tribes:

Wabanaki News:

Wabanaki History – A Timeline:

PEOPLE OF THE DAWNLAND: The Wabanaki and the Mount Desert Island Region before Colonization, by Julia Clark and George Neptune, Spring 2014 Friends of Acadia Journal -

About the Abbe Museum With the mission to inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations with every visit, the Abbe Museum values the importance of education, research, care, and investment in our strategic and operational goals.

The Abbe Museum was founded in 1926 and first opened to the public in 1928. The Museum is named for its founder, Dr. Robert Abbe (1851-1928), an eminent New York physician known for his pioneering use of radiation therapy. A beloved summer resident of Bar Harbor, during the 1920s Dr. Abbe assembled a collection of early Native American artifacts found in the Frenchman Bay area. He persuaded others with similar collections to join him in establishing a museum that would protect these objects and display them for public education and enjoyment. Early supporters included George B. Dorr, "the father of Acadia," and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The Museum opened as a private museum at Sieur de Monts Spring in Lafayette National Park (later renamed Acadia National Park) on August 14, 1928.

Also in 1928, the Abbe became the first institution in Maine to sponsor archaeological research. The Museum continued to conduct extensive excavations, and later expanded its archaeological research throughout Maine. It is now the main repository for archaeological collections from the midcoast region.

As the collections grew, the Museum also expanded its educational role. Small exhibits on subjects such as basketmaking and the Museum's founding complemented the displays of archaeological artifacts. The Abbe began collaborating with Native people and, during the 1980s and 1990s, mounted exhibitions on themes such as the birchbark art of Tomah Joseph, the role of Wabanaki basketmakers in the local tourist economy, and the archaeology of the Ruth Moore site. During recent decades, Native Americans have become increasingly involved in all aspects of the Museum, including policy-making as members of the Board of Trustees and our Native Advisory Council.

The Abbe opened its downtown Museum on September 29, 2001, with permanent and changing exhibitions including the major installation of "Wabanaki: People of the Dawn." All exhibitions at the Abbe are accompanied by a variety of educational programs for adults and families. The Abbe Downtown presents special programs for school groups designed to meet the objectives of Maine Learning Results. It serves the community year-round, while the trailside Abbe at Sieur de Monts Spring is open seasonally from mid-May to mid-October.

Learn more at Exciting events, programs, workshops, and demonstrations planned for this year! Links to Native American Tribes of Maine below. Penobscot Nation Maliseet Passamaquoddy Tribe Micmac Tribe Abenaki Tribe   Penobscot Moccasins Penobscot Moccasins