Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians
The federal government recognized the Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians on November 26, 1991. Since their recognition, the tribe has acquired over 1,300 acres of land. The majority of tribal members live in the cities of Presque Isle, Caribou, and Houlton, Maine.
The Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians and 28 other bands that are based in Canada comprise the Micmac Nation. The Micmacs are members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, an alliance that was forged among the Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, and Abenaki tribes in the 18th century. Members of the Aroostook Band have free border-crossing rights guaranteed under the Jay Treaty of 1794. Traditionally, the Micmac people have lived along the 400-mile-long St. John River, which runs along the Canadian border in northern Maine. Native gatherers inhabited this region as early as 12,000 years ago. Tribal history suggests that the Maliseet peoples and the Micmac jointly inhabited this area for several thousand years.
As early as 1607, the Micmac people participated in the fur trade with French traders. The Micmacs served as the first “middlemen” to the interior Native population for the European fur trade. Competition stemming from the fur trade intensified existing rivalries between the Micmacs and the neighboring Abenaki people. Between 1678 and 1752, the Micmacs signed numerous treaties with the Colony of Massachusetts. In July, 1776, the Micmac and Maliseet tribes agreed to support the American revolutionary forces against the British. By the early 1900s, many of the Micmacs had settled in permanent residences on various Indian reserves and in rural hamlets. Into the 20th century, the Micmacs supported themselves through seasonal labor, logging, river driving, blueberry raking, potato picking, and by selling splint basketry.
In 1970, the tribe formed the Association of Aroostook Indians to combat poverty and discrimination. Lobbying for their Native rights, they gained state recognition of their tribal status in 1973. Without reservation status, tribal members have learned to retain their tribal heritage while residing in modern communities. The Micmacs continue to speak their Native language, which is part of the Algonquian linguistic group.