A new permanent exhibit at the Maine State Archives in Augusta has its roots in the Ph.D. research of a recent University of Maine alumnus and newly appointed assistant professor.
Ethnohistorian Micah Pawling, Assistant Professor of History and Native American Studies, is the guest curator of “Choosing Survival: Wabanaki Documents at the Maine State Archives.” The exhibit features 18th- and 19th-century Wabanaki documents — petitions and an original watercolor map — that provide a unique perspective on the Maine tribes’ struggle to preserve their homeland. Among them: an 1821 petition on behalf of the Passamaquoddy Tribe to the Maine legislature seeking assistance in staving off the influx of American and British settlers who were dramatically transforming their homeland. Such petitions were an attempt by the Penobscots, Passamaquoddies and Maliseets in present-day eastern Maine, western New Brunswick and the southern shore of Quebec to navigate a new, ever-changing geopolitical landscape. With their very survival on the line, the tribes learned to use petitions as a political tool to negotiate, assert concerns and articulate aboriginal rights to governments.
Pawling’s research on the Native petitions culminated in a Ph.D. and master’s degree, both in history, from UMaine in 2010 and 1999, respectively. In 2007, in conjunction with the Penobscot Indian Nation, Pawling published the book, Wabanaki Homeland and the New State of Maine: The 1820 Journal and Plans of Survey of Joseph Treat. Pawling is now a UMaine assistant professor of history and Native American studies.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745