Centuries before English, French, Dutch, Portuguese and perhaps Norse explorers claimed to discover Maine, Native Americans called it home. Collectively known as the Wabanaki, or People of the Dawn, Maine’s Native Americans are divided into four tribes: The Micmacs and Maliseets, based in Aroostook County; the Penobscots, on Indian Island, near Orono; and the Passamaquoddy, based at Pleasant Point, in Perry, near Eastport, and at Indian Township, in Princeton, near Calais.Learn more about Maine's Native American history at museums and get to know current members of this community by attending fairs and festivals.
You can see Wabanaki collections at several museums. The strongest collections are at the Abbe Museum on Mount Desert Island, the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine at Orono, the Maine State Museum in Augusta, and the Penobscot Nation Museum on Indian Island. Smaller collections of note are at the Waponahki Museum & Resource Center in Pleasant Point, Nowetah's Indian Museum and Gift Store in New Portland, the Passamaquoddy Museum at Indian Township, and at local historical society museums throughout the state. You'll also find many children's activities at the Abbe and Hudson museums. The Abbe Museum's gift shop, open year-round, has a well-chosen selection of Native American-made crafts as well as books and related merchandise.
The Wabanaki are renowned for crafts including baskets, birch-bark canoes, walking sticks and beaded jewelry. You can see baskets made by members of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance at three annual events: the Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market in July in Bar Harbor; the Common Ground Country Fair in September in Unity; and the Maine Indian Basketmakers Sale and Demonstration in December at the University of Maine at Orono. These events also highlight traditional Native American singing, drumming and storytelling.