Wabanaki Place Names

Place names provide clues for understanding how people inhabit­­ a place. Wabanakis, whose name translates as “the people of the Dawnland,” are the indigenous peoples of northern New England and eastern Canada. They include the Penobscots, Passamaquoddies, Mi’kmaqs, and Maliseets. Wabanaki place names describe a particular set of relationships to western Maine. Some names suggest how people moved over the land or—more likely—over the waters of Maine by describing the good portages and the dangerous rapids. Others mark good locations for gathering or growing food. Some of these names are still used today. Others have fallen out of use. All of them describe how Wabanakis made this place their home.

The Wabanaki Place Names of Western Maine map  is the product of work done by students in History s28 in 2012, when it was taught by Micah Pawling and Donald Soctomah, and in 2014, when it was taught by Maria Giriouard and Joe Hall. Joe Hall prepared the map in April 2015 using skills he learned in ES 220 (GIS across the Curriculum) and with indispensable help from Matt Duvall in the Bates College Imaging and Computing Center.