To understand a People, you have to understand their history.
I have prepared this timeline for my readers to provide a basic understanding of Wabanaki history.
- 1500s – Occasional European contact with explorers and fisherman, increasing towards the end of the century.
- 1605-1620 – steady contact bringing European disease – the time of “the Great Dying” when 75%-90% of the Wabanaki population die from European disease which they have no natural immunity to.
- 1620 – Pilgrims land at Plymouth, and find the place depopulated of Indians.
- 1620 to 1675 – Natives assist the newcomers to survive. French make Catholic converts in northern areas and English make Protestant converts in southern areas. Protestant converts are expected to assimilate all aspects of European culture. Catholic converts are allowed to live within their own culture.
- 1675 to 1763 – long period of on-again off-again wars between England and the Wabanaki or England against the French & Indians – Maine & NH Coastal areas suffer greatly. Large populations become refugees, raids on settlements and captive taking wreak havoc on English and Indian populations. European disease continues to reduce the Native populations. Tribal groups divide over religion, politics, and survival techniques. Tribal groups disappear, merge with others, and reform as new entities. French provide Wabanaki with guns and supplies while offering mission villages as safe haven (home base) for Warrior’s families.
- 1763 to 1800 – Wabanaki begin their final series of cultural adjustments to accommodate the new communities growing up around them and the loss of traditional resources.
- 1800 to 1875 – Wabanaki continue to refine their cultural survival patterns. Non-reservation Natives become invisible in public records – they are there but seldom labeled as “Indian”. Reservation populations slowly adopt record keeping at the insistence of non-Natives. The Wabanaki begin using family names more consistent with Euro-American style surname practices.
- 1875 to 1950s – Native populations rebound while traditional language and culture is gradually lost. Some traditional culture is abandoned while a new culture originating with Western Native groups is adopted to meet white expectations of Indian-ness. Generally, dime novels, the entertainment industry, and tourism is responsible for this adoption of Western Native culture.
Does anyone have any comments or questions?