Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Story of Tribal / economics from a Penobscot Perspective Cont (2)

This is continued from the Tribal/State article I wrote earlier.

1821 Maine became a State
The State legislature immediately made laws to take Indian land and resources

What I will call the Land claims Act of 1833 caused a breach in tribal politics resulting in the Old and New Parties.

In 1821 the legislature passed an Act allowing the Governor to appoint 1 to 3 Indian agents for the Penobscot. Their duties were procurement and delivery of treaty goods, approval of contracts and bargains regarding timber and grass growing on Indian lands. The agent was not allowed to grant leases beyond 1 yr or to sell more than $500.00 dollars worth of timber in a single year. In 1826 the legislature broadened the agent’s powers allowing them to lease any of the Islands belonging to said tribe, for any term of years not to exceed 12 and to sell and dispose of brunt and decaying timber on the two Indian Townships on the west branch of the Penobscot river.

Agents were to obtain consent from the tribes but the money was placed in the treasury of the State. The tribes had to petition the agent who then would petition the governor and his council who would then obtain appropriations from the legislature. The Act was conceived as a control measure, further removing the Penobscot from sovereignty over their own property and resources. They were treated and considered as paupers.

In 1808 Penobscot fishermen were forcibly removed from the rocks and small Islands of Old Town falls and their nets destroyed. This event caused tribal members to worry about being forced to leave Indian Island itself. In 1833 The Attean family was forced to move from their home at Mattawamkeg point. These incidences caused so much anxieity that a Penobscot said …If so great and so free a country as this would exterminate us, we have no chance anywhere else; We or our children, must sooner or later be driven into the salt water and perish.”

In 1823 a communication mentions 36 camps on ten Islands within twenty miles of Indian Island and Passadumkeag stream. (newcomers and squatters allowed their cattle to swim to the Islands and graze on the Penobscot crops.) The Islands were used to cultivate crops such as corn, beans, potatoes, melons etc.

Removal by fire: A phrase popularized by Jacksonian rhetoric. In 1825 John Netpune voiced the Penobscot widespread belief that one of the worst fires in Maine History was intentionally set to drive off the Indians. It raged over two weeks in the forest of North Bangor, it burned Penobscot territory on both sides of the river from Passadumkeg to Mattanawcook it was described as a “sea of flames” The Islands were brunt as well. This fire coincided with a National policy of Indian removal. This policy as originally understood involved “all Indians within our organized governments.” Less than two years after that another fire was set in the Penobscot encampment in Brunswick which was brunt to the ground. With this fear as background the State law makers resolved to authorize the State to negotiate with the Penobscot Indians for the transfer of two townships.

In 1831 the same legislators resolved to authorize the Penobscot Indians to sell two townships of land and pine timber as if they had been requested to do so by the tribe.

A communication found in the Indian files in Augusta. From John G. Dean of Ellsworth Indian Agent Jan 20th 1830 set the stage for the implementation of the “coercive” course of action that would result in the Penobscot formal subjugation as “wards” of the State of Maine.

Dean recommended an overhaul in Indian policy and practices he recommended the implementation of a cohersive system.
The State Legislature embarked on a three stage process whereby:
1. The Penobscot would be derprived of any entitlement to their four townships and proceeds put into and Indian Trust Fund.
2. Penobscot heads of household would be deeded in “severalty” small plots of land previously surveyed on all inhabitable Islands form Indian Island to Mattanawcook. Where they would erect fixed dwellings and become productive farmers.
3. The interest yearly accruing form the trust and other tribal funding woud be “appropriated” by State authority and managed by an Indian agent. Along with a Superintendent of farming. Ultimately there would be no townships

Lumber barron Ames D. Roberts and Justice Thomas H. Bartlett were appointed as commissioners to represent the State in a negotiation with the tribe to buy four townships.

Thus the Land Claims of 1833
Penobscots said these townships were obtained fraudulently and a hearing was held in the Senate.

Next the Senate debate over the alleged theft of the four Townships.