Penobscot, Algonquian-speaking North American Indians who lived on both sides of the Penobscot Bay and throughout the Penobscot River basin in what is now the state of Maine, U.S. They were members of the Abenaki confederacy.
They are organized as a federally recognized tribe in Maine and as a First Nations band government in the Atlantic provinces and Quebec. Their main settlement is now the Penobscot Indian Island Reservation, located within the state of Maine along the Penobscot River.
The Penobscot Indian Nation is an indigenous Native American tribe of Eastern Maine, occupying some 200+ islands in the Penobscot River. The community’s main reservation is located at Indian Island, part of the Greater Bangor Metropolitan Statistical Area (about dead center of the state).
The Penobscot Nation has about three thousand members. Five hundred or so live on Indian Island in the Penobscot River in Maine. Most others live in different parts of that small state in the Northeast.
The Penobscot are an indigenous tribe from the Northeastern Woodlands region that is federally recognized in the state of Maine as well as in Quebec, Canada. Their name originates from a mispronunciation of the name they call themselves — Penawapskewi, which means “rocky part” or “descending ledges”.
The Penobscot Indians didn’t live in tepees. They lived in small birchbark houses called wigwams. Here is some more information about the wigwam. In the winter, each Penobscot family would leave their village to go to their own winter hunting grounds.
The language spoken by the Penobscot people is called Abnaki-Penobscot, an Algonquian language still spoken by Abenaki elders in Canada. They also spoke Eastern Abenaki, another dialect of the language. The last fluent speakers of the languages have passed away, but there are still a few working to revive it.
The Penobscot Reservation is located approximately 12 miles north of Bangor, the nearest urban area, and immediately adjacent to the city of Old Town. The government of the Penobscot Nation consists of a Tribal Chief, Sub-Chief, and 12 Tribal Council members. This government is elected through a democratic process.
Today, the four Maine Indian tribes are the Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy, known collectively as the Wabanaki, “People of the Dawnland.” Each community maintains its own tribal government, community schools, cultural center and each manages its respective lands and natural resources.
Religion. The Penobscot, like other Algonquian people, shared a belief in Midewiwin (also spelled Midewin). With the arrival of the French, the Penobscot were converted to Christianity, but many still practiced Midewiwin or co-practice Christianity and Midewiwin.
Geography. According to the United States Census Bureau, the Indian reservation has a total area of 22.0 square miles (57.0 km2). 7.5 square miles (19.5 km2) of it is land and 14.4 square miles (37.4 km2) of it (65.70%) is water.
Within the forest, Penobscot Indians were able to hunt bears, moose, caribou, beavers, and otters for pelts (used for a variety of purposes, including warmth—it gets cold during Maine winters!) and food. They also gathered much of their food, collecting nuts, berries, and birds’ eggs to augment their diet.