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Maine Early History

First Early Inhabitants of Maine

Maine Early History: Maine Flag

Early history examines the archaeological record that tells the story of the first inhabitants of Maine. Learn about the prehistory and culture of the first early inhabitants, and what lessons it might teach us about the early history of Maine.

Maine First Early Inhabitants Timeline

  • 17,000 BP (before the present) - The last glacier, known as the Wisconsin glaciation, begins to recede.
  • 11,500 years ago - The Paleo Indians settled in Maine.
  • 11,000 BP - Maine is free of the glacier, except for a few ice caps in the north.
  • 10,500 BP - Maine's first human population arrives: the Paleo-Indians.
  • 10,000 BP - 7500 BP - The Paleo-Indian population dies out or diminishes.
  •  7500 BP - 6000 BP - Prehistoric Maine's population increases. Sea levels rise; the Atlantic Ocean reaches present day Millinocket.
  • 6000 BP - 3000 BP - Prehistoric Maine's population continues to increase. "Red Paint" burial sites date from this time. Burial grounds for these earliest Maine dwellers known as the "Red Paint" people - so named because of the red clay with which they lined the graves of their dead - except that they flourished and hunted in Maine long before the coming of the Micmac and Abnaki Indian nations.
  • 4700 BP (2700 BC) - The first pyramids are built in Egypt.
  • 3000 BP to 500 BP - Maine Indians discover how to make ceramic pottery. The first wigwam evidence in Maine dates from this period.
  • 2550 BP (551 BC)  - Confucius is born in China.
  • 1000-1100 AD - Norse sailors, led by Leif Erikson, arrive in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Evidence suggests that they may have reached as far south as Maine.
  • 1337 - 1453 AD - France and England battle over territory in the Hundred Years War.
  • 1497 - John Cabot sights land near Cape Breton and claims it for King Henry VII.
  • 1524 - Giovanni da Verranzano became the first confirmed European to explore the coast of Maine.
  • 1597 - Simon Ferdinando, a Portugese Navigator, working for the British Crown, lands on the Coast of Maine, looking for treasure.
  • 1604 - Pierre du Guast Sieur de Monts established the first recorded European colony
  • 1675 -
    • The start of the 'Indian Wars' (1675-1760) which would include the French and Indian Wars. The 'Indian Wars' commenced in the Plymouth Colon
    • 1675-1676 - King Philip's War. so named after Metacom (King Philip) of the Wampanoag tribe, who was called Philip by the English. The war was bloody and bitterly fought by the colonists against the Wampanoags, Narragansetts, Nipmucks, Pocumtucks, and Abenakis. The Narragansett tribe were nearly exterminated during this War.
  • 1677 - Waldron and Frost sent to the Kennebec to subdue the Indians - peace was declared in 1678
  • 1688 -
    • 1688 - 1763 The French and Indian Wars between France and Great Britain for lands in North America consisting of King
    •  William's War (1688-1699), Queen Anne's War (1702-1713), King George's War (1744 - 1748) and the French and Indian War aka the Seven Years War (1754-1763)
    • (1688-1699) King William's War (part of the French and Indian Wars) between France and the Wabanaki Confederacy and England and the Iroquois Confederacy. Peace Treaty made at Pemaquid. August 11,1693. and was ratified on Jan. 7. 1699
  • 1702 - (1702-1713) Queen Anne's War (part of the French and Indian Wars) between the French and Spanish colonies allied with the Wabanaki Confederacy, Mohawk, Choctaw, Timucua, Apalachee and Natchez tribes against the British colonies allied with the Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw and Yamasee tribes.
  • 1722 - Wabanaki-New England War of 1722–1725 aka Father Rale's War or Lovewell's War between the Wabanaki Confederacy, Abenaki, Pequawket, Míkmaq and Maliseet against the New England Colonies and the Mohawks
  • 1744 - (1744–1748) King George's War (part of the French and Indian Wars) between the French colonies allied with the Wabanaki Confederacy and the British colonies allied with Iroquois Confederacy
  • 1749 - Father Le Loutre’s War (1749–1755), also known as the Indian War, the Míkmaq War and the Anglo-Míkmaq War
  • 1754 (1754-1763) French and Indian War known in the US as the Seven Years War, (part of the French and Indian Wars) between the colonies of France allied with the Wabanaki Confederacy, Algonquin tribes, Abenaki, Míkmaq, Lenape, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Shawnee, Wyandot and Great Britain allied with the Iroquois Confederacy, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca, Tuscarora, Mohawk, Cayuga, Catawba and Cherokee tribes

Early History of Native Americans in Maine

The Indigenous People of Maine

The names of the Maine tribes included the Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki, Penobscot, Míkmaq, Malecite, Passamaquoddy, Pennacook and the Penobscot.

The region's earliest inhabitants were descendants of Ice Age hunters. Little is known of these "Red Paint" people - so named because of the red clay with which they lined the graves of their dead - except that they flourished and hunted in Maine long before the coming of the Micmac and Abnaki Indian nations. Little is known about this prehistoric group of people, but they left behind scattered bits of bone and stone that are among the oldest archeological treasures in North America.

Burial grounds for these earliest Maine dwellers are thought to date back to 3000 BC Huge oyster shell heaps on the Damariscotta estuary testify to the capacious appetites of Maine's aborigines. Archeologists estimate that these heaps - remnants of ancient shellfish "dinners"- are between one and five thousand years old. The arrowheads and tools found within these heaps are distinctly different from those of the Red Paint People.

Of Maine's two earliest Indian nations, the Micmacs of eastern Maine and New Brunswick were largely a warlike people, while the more numerous Abnakis (or Wabanakis) were a peaceful nation, given to farming and fishing as a way of life

But their numbers began to diminish rapidly due to increasing conflict with the white man, wars with other invading tribes, and disease. Of the dozens of Algonkian Indian tribes that once inhabited Maine, only two remain - the Penobscot and the Passamaquoddies.

When European settlers came to the region in the early 17th century, they encountered the Abnakis and the Etchimins, two major divisions of the Algonkian nation. These Native Americans moved several times each year, following the available food supply. In the spring they fished in the rivers and planted crops of corn, squash and beans along the riverbanks. Early summer brought them to the coastal areas, and by September they returned to harvest their crops. The coming of winter found them venturing deep into the forests of Maine to hunt for game.

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