Begin Again Wabanaki


Robinhaud deed to land at Sheepscot River, 1662

Robinhaud deed to land at Sheepscot River, 1662
Item 7354   info
Maine Historical Society

The Indian Sagamore Robinhaud (Robinhood) and son, both of Wiscasset confirmed the right of Thoms Clives (Cleaves) and his heirs and assigns to the peaceful possession of a tract of land between the upper and lower narrows on the west side of the Sheepscot River.

When English people arrived in what is now known as Maine, Wabanaki leaders worked to incorporate settlers into their social and ecological networks, to create responsible relationships, and alliances with their guests.

English colonial settlers, working under the guise of the Doctrines of Discovery and English law, misinterpreted Native hospitality, and misunderstood the obligations that accompanied the privilege of sharing space. As Wabanaki people strove to incorporate settlers into their complex cultural and economic systems, the settler colonialists sought only Native signatures and consent of land ownership on deeds.

If settler colonialists claimed rights to the land through the Doctrines of Discovery, why did they need to buy the land and create deeds? Maine was an internationally contested area, and multiple European nations were trying to colonize the area—a deed was one way of proving ownership. Also, English law began seeing Maine real estate transactions in the same manner as property changing hands in England. Lastly, settler colonialists understood that "buying" land was easier than taking it, an action that might lead to violence.

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