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Wabanaki Homeland and the New State of Maine

The 1820 Journal and Plans of Survey of Joseph Treat

edited with an introduction by Micah A. Pawling

Publication Year: 2007

In late September 1820, hoping to lay claim to territory then under dispute between Great Britain and the United States, Governor William King of the newly founded state of Maine dispatched Major Joseph Treat to survey public lands on the Penobscot and Saint John Rivers. Traveling well beyond the limits of colonial settlement, Treat relied heavily on the cultural knowledge and expertise of John Neptune, lieutenant governor of the Penobscot tribe, to guide him across the Wabanaki homeland. Along the way Treat recorded his daily experiences in a journal and drew detailed maps, documenting the interactions of the Wabanaki peoples with the land and space they knew as home. Edited, annotated, and with an introduction by Micah Pawling, this volume includes a complete transcription of Treat's journal, reproductions of dozens of hand-drawn maps, and records pertaining to the 1820 treaty between the Penobscot Nation and the governing authorities of Maine. As Pawling points out, Treat's journal offers more than the observations of a state agent conducting a survey. It re-creates a dialogue between Euro-Americans and Native peoples, showing how different perceptions of the land were negotiated and disseminated, and exposing the tensions that surfaced when assumptions and expectations clashed. In large part because of Neptune's influence, the maps, in addition to detailing the location of Wabanaki settlements, reflect a river-oriented Native perspective that would later serve as a key to Euro-American access to the region's interior. The groundwork for cooperation between Treat and Neptune had been laid during the 1820 treaty negotiations, in which both men participated and which were successfully concluded just over a month before their expedition departed from Bangor, Maine. Despite conflicting interests and mutual suspicions, they were able to work together and cultivate a measure of trust as they traveled across northern Maine and western New Brunswick, mapping an old world together while envisioning its uncertain future.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press


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Title Page

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p. iii

Copyright Page

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p. iv


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p. v

Table of Contents

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

Anyone who embarks on a book project realizes that the journey could not have happened without the numerous people who provided valuable assistance along the way. This is particularly true in a cross-cultural collaborative project like this one. My deepest appreciation goes to the Penobscot Indian Nation of Indian Island, Maine, who contributed to Joseph Treat’s manuscript then and now. The...

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pp. 1-66

On June 2, 1820, Maine’s first governor gave his “state of the state” address to the new legislature in Portland. Governor William King declared that there was “no state in this union, whose inland frontier is more exposed . . . as Maine.”¹ Massachusetts and Maine both had urgent interests in settling the northeast boundary disputes with New Brunswick and Lower Canada.

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Journal and Plans of Survey by Joseph Treat—1820

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pp. 67-276

Bangor, 16th Sept. 1820 I this day received Instructions from His Excellency William King, dated the 11th instant, directing me to proceed up the Penobscot— thence through the Lakes and River St. John, &c. for the purpose of examining and ascertaining the quality of the soil and growth on the Public Land in that vicinity.— Agreeably to these Instructions, I make the necessary arrangements...

Appendix: The 1820 Treaty Negotiations between the Penobscot Tribe and the New State of Maine

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pp. 277-291

Index [About the Author]

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pp. 293-300

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613761465
E-ISBN-10: 1613761465
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558495784
Print-ISBN-10: 1558495789

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 657848483
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Wabanaki Homeland and the New State of Maine

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Abenaki Indians -- Land tenure.
  • Abenaki Indians -- Treaties.
  • Saint John River Valley (Me. and N.B.) -- Surveys.
  • Penobscot River Valley (Me.) -- Surveys.
  • Penobscot River Valley (Me.) -- Maps.
  • Treat, Joseph, 1775-1853 -- Travel -- Saint John River Valley (Me. and N.B.).
  • Saint John River Valley (Me. and N.B.) -- Maps.
  • Neptune, John, 1767-1865 -- Travel -- Maine.
  • Treat, Joseph, 1775-1853 -- Travel -- Maine -- Penobscot River Valley.
  • Penobscot Indians -- Treaties.
  • Penobscot Indians -- Land tenure.
  • Treat, Joseph, 1775-1853 -- Diaries.
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