Dr. Bonnie Newsom

Dr. Bonnie Newsom

Assistant Professor of Anthropology


Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2017
M.S., Quarternary Studies, University of Maine, 1999
B.A., Anthropology, University of Maine, 1995



Professional Interests:

I am an Indigenous archaeologist interested in the pre-contact lifeways of Maine’s Native peoples. Most of my research has occurred within the Penobscot River Valley in Maine focusing heavily on Native peoples living during the Ceramic Period (ca. 3050-250 years ago). Through my research, I seek to humanize people in the past by exploring concepts of identity, style, social boundaries, and human agency. Most recently, my research has focused on population distinctions in pre-contact Maine through an analysis of potters’ choices in the manufacture of aboriginal ceramics from Maine’s coastal and interior settings. As a faculty member at UMaine, I will continue to build a portfolio of research dedicated to exploring some of Maine archaeology’s most interesting and unresolved questions.

My archaeological experience in Maine includes working in the cultural resources management sector as well as serving as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Penobscot Indian Nation. These experiences provide me with a well-rounded knowledge of Maine’s archaeological record. They also inspire my interests in historic preservation law, tribal intellectual property rights, Indigenous archaeologies theory and methods, and issues of cultural identity and cultural connectedness.

I have a strong interest in archaeological theory and understanding the foundational principles that guide archaeological research.  I am particularly fond of reading old archaeological manuscripts, not only to understand the history of a particular site, but also to understand archaeologists in an anthropological way. For me, the history, motivations, and experiences of archaeologists as people are important components of their archaeological interests and interpretations.

As a member of the Penobscot Indian Nation, my professional efforts generally include ways to create space for Indigenous voices. To that end, I worked to establish an archaeology program at Penobscot Nation and to establish solid working relationships with heritage professionals in the state and across the nation. I have also served on numerous boards and committees at both the local and national levels.  Currently, I serve as Chair of the Repatriation Review Committee for the Smithsonian Institution and was recently appointed to the Maine State Museum Commission.


Select Publications:

  • Primary Author with Jamie Bissonette-Lewey: “Wabanaki Resistance and Healing: An Exploration of the Contemporary Role of an Eighteenth Century Bounty Proclamation in an Indigenous Decolonization Process” in Landscapes of Violence, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, March 2012
  • Secondary Author with Dr. Arthur Spiess and Leon Cranmer: “Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site” in American Indian Places, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Massachusetts, September 2008
  • Author: Afterword to Life and Traditions of the Red Man by Joseph Nicolar (reprint) Duke University Press, 2007
  • Secondary Author with Dr. David Sanger: “Middle Archaic in the Lower Piscataquis River, and its Relationship to the Laurentian Tradition in Central Maine” 2000 Maine Archaeological Society Bulletin, Volume 40:1, 1-22


Technical Reports:

  • Author: “Archaeological Investigations at a WWII German Prisoner of War Camp Site at Motahkomikuk, Indian Township, Maine.” Report submitted to the Passamaquoddy Tribal Historic Preservation Office, Passamaquoddy Tribe, Motahkomikuk, Indian Township, Maine, January 2014.
  • Author: “Developing Policies and Protocols for the Culturally Sensitive Intellectual Properties of the Penobscot Nation of Maine.” Report submitted to the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Program. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, November 2013
  • Author: “Ancient Ones and Cultural Affiliation: An Examination of the Evidence from Maine.” Report Prepared for Acadia National Park, National Park Service, Bar Harbor, Maine, 2010.
  • Primary Author with Dr. David Sanger: Phase II Archaeological Investigations of the Howland Reservoir, Central Maine 1998 CRM Report submitted to Bangor Hydro-Electric Company, Bangor, Maine
  • Secondary Author with Ms. Karen Mack and Dr. Alice Kelley: An Archaeological Assessment of the Howland Reservoir: Results of Phase I Investigations 1997 CRM Report submitted to Bangor Hydro-Electric Company, Bangor, Maine



Tel: 207.581.2174

Fax: 207.581.1823

Email: bonnie.newsom@maine.edu

Department of Anthropology
University of Maine
5773 S. Stevens Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5773