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Maine State Archives

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In the years prior to the Revolutionary War, treaty councils were lengthy, face-to-face meetings between tribal leaders and European-American government officials. Because of discrepancies in the written version of a treaty (often advantageous to the government) and the oral version agreed upon by the Native American peoples, both groups often had very different understandings of the outcome of treaty negotiations. After convening two treaty councils, in Portland and in the Penobscot River Valley, this treaty between the new state of Maine and the Penobscot Tribe was signed in Bangor on August 17, 1820. The Penobscots agreed to end their ties with Massachusetts and recognized Maine’s responsibility over treaties, land, and distribution of financial support to the tribe. The treaty also re-affirmed the 1818 Penobscot treaty with Massachusetts, which upheld tribal lands consisting of 4 townships, islands in the Penobscot River, and two acres along the river in Brewer. Joseph Treat, a surveyor who bought and leased Native land, signed as a witness. John Neptune signed as the Penobscot’s Lieutenant Governor. In spite of cultural differences and apprehension, the two men would begin a journey together in September 1820 to map the Penobscot River, which is documented in Joseph Treat’s extraordinarily detailed survey journal.

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Treaty Made with the Penobscot Tribe



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