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Finding Katahdin Document Packets, Chapter 11

Item 10 of 10


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Native Americans at a rally, 1979

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Native Americans at a rally, 1979 / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 11, page 347-351.

From the time Europeans began settling in North, Native Americans and Europeans have fought over control of land and boundaries.

Dozens of treaties have been drafted over the years- the major ones in 1796, 1818, and 1833, after years of bitter warfare between the Indians and colonists. Eventually the Maine Indians were left occupying relatively small areas of the state.

In 1964, 75 Penobscot Indians held a sit-in protesting William Plaisted, - a white man who began building on an Indian Township, claiming that he owned the land. Over the years, the Penobscot's land had slowly dwindled from 23,000 acres to 17,000. Maine recently had built U.S. Route 1 through the township; Plaisted's claim was a final blow.

The Maine tribes hired lawyer Thomas Tureen to fight for their land. Tureen uncovered a 1790 law called the Indian Non-Intercourse Act that forbade the buying or selling of Indian land without consent of Congress.

Tureen and the Maine Tribes sued the state of Maine, claiming that the Wabanaki were owed 12.5 million acres of Maine land. The case went to court, and remained unresolved for a decade.

In 1978, President Carter stepped in. The federal government gave $81.5 million to the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and $900,000 to the Houlton Band of Maliseets. Paper companies and other landowners agreed to sell 300,000 acres of land to the tribes, and this land became Indian territory.

This photo is from a rally in 1979.