The Historic Wabanaki People

The following information is from a historical perspective and does not necessarily relate to modern-day Wabanaki People. The information is also very generalized and should not be viewed as set in stone.

Historical Wabanaki

  • Semi-nomadic, hunter/gathers with some agriculture and a few planting villages
  • More nomadic to the east of the Kennebec River
  • More dependence on agriculture and settled villages to the south and west
  • More settled at mission villages administered by Catholic Priests.

The basic unit of organization is the family band

  • A family band might consist of 5 to 40 related people.
  • Band membership was very fluid and flexible.
  • They had defined family territories for hunting, fishing, maple sugaring, nut & berry harvesting, marketing crafts, etc.
  • They traveled extensible throughout the year, covering hundreds of miles.
  • Their travels were based on the seasonal availability of natural resources – later it became driven by seasonal employment and tourism opportunities.
  • They traveled by canoe when the waters were ice free and by snowshoe when the snows were deep.
  • They gathered in large numbers for spring planting and fall harvesting at agricultural “village” sites.
  • They intermarried with other Native groups, as well as non-Natives such as French, English, Dutch, Irish, Scottish, German, etc.. This intermarriage often blurs the tribal/cultural lines.

Each family band generally operated from a home base.

  • Reservations & villages, Indian owned/rented property, or off reservation communities
  • Elders, very young, and those in poor health might stay year round
  • Healthy adults travel throughout family territory, returning to home base as needed
  • Elders raise the very young here
  • Winter camp for most
  • A place to build up inventories, repair or replace equipment, regain health, etc.
Does anyone have any comments or questions?
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