We get plenty of emails on the Bangor Each day Information, asking all kinds of various questions on all the things from main information tales to the title of a sandwich that was on the menu at a restaurant that closed 30 years in the past.
That’s one of many the reason why immediately we’re launching this new weekly column, through which we’ll attempt to reply the burning questions you have got about why issues are the best way they’re in Maine — particularly about Maine tradition and Maine historical past, each way back and up to date.
What’s the take care of that odd-shaped constructing in your downtown? Why is one thing the place it’s, and never elsewhere? What’s the story behind that statue within the park? Was the whoopie pie actually invented in Maine? Was there any reality to the best way Maine was portrayed in that film you’re keen on?
We wish to hear your questions, which you’ll be able to electronic mail to me, Emily Burnham, at [email protected] We’re calling this new column Exhausting Telling Not Realizing, as a result of that’s as Maine a saying as there ever was, and, hopefully, we will present a solution to the belongings you don’t learn about our lovely state.
Right here’s our first query, one which I do know I’ve been requested earlier than.
Why is the College of Maine on an island?
You might not even discover more often than not that UMaine is on an island — Marsh Island.
The island itself is called for John Marsh, a surveyor and settler who within the 1760s turned considerably pleasant with the native Penobscot individuals, who on the time had their essential settlement on Marsh Island, in what’s now downtown Outdated City.
“It is a time the place there aren’t many settlers round, and Marsh developed a relationship with the Penobscot — he discovered the language, he labored with them,” mentioned Darren Ranco, chair of Native American applications at UMaine and a member of the Penobscot Nation.
In 1770, Marsh approached the tribe to ask if he might purchase a deed granting him entry to 2,000 acres on the southern half of the island — roughly the place UMaine and far of Orono is immediately. They agreed to let Marsh have that land for 99 years, with the clause that in the event that they ever needed it again, he’d have to present it to them.
As with lots of the dealings white settlers had with tribal peoples, nevertheless, the phrases of the settlement rapidly started to vary. Marsh constructed a sawmill on the river on the japanese facet of the island, which the Penobscot weren’t thrilled about. Nor have been they pleased about his encroachment on territory exterior of his agreed-upon 2,000 acres. Tensions more and more started to flare.
In 1792, Marsh went to the governor of Massachusetts — bear in mind, Maine was a part of Massachusetts at the moment — requesting they provide him a really clear and particular deed stating that he did actually personal these 2,000 acres — and never only for 99 years however completely. Swayed by Marsh’s service in what’s now Washington County below considered one of George Washington’s colonels throughout the Revolutionary Conflict, the deed was granted.
4 years later, in 1796, a treaty was drawn up between the Penobscot and Massachusetts, stating that every one the islands within the Penobscot River north of Orono belonged to the tribe. That treaty and a second treaty in 1818 stay in dispute to this present day, and are on the middle of the long-running authorized battle between the Penobscot and the state of Maine over who has jurisdiction over the river itself.
So how did Marsh Island — proper on the border of the traces drawn by that 1796 treaty, and which for hundreds of years was house to a thriving Penobscot village — find yourself completely within the palms of colonists?
That goes again to Marsh and his descendants, who saved increasing their improvement of the island because the many years handed and pushed the Native individuals onto close by Indian Island, immediately the reservation for the Penobscot individuals. And it goes again to the shady nature of the treaties themselves, which have been drafted with out the total participation of tribal individuals.
It’s additionally as a result of the native white residents determined that they may extra simply take management of Marsh Island by merely renaming a part of the Penobscot River. They named the a part of the river that flows alongside the western and northern shores of Marsh Island the Stillwater River — regardless of it clearly being a part of the Penobscot.
“That’s a standard colonial technique to cheat Indians out of their land — renaming issues to get round treaties and different agreements,” Ranco mentioned.
By the center of the nineteenth century, Marsh Island was completely out of Native palms and belonged to each personal landowners and the state of Maine. When the Morrill Act was signed in 1862 creating federal land grant universities, Maine lawmakers vied to have the brand new college situated within the areas they represented. After a lot wheeling and dealing, in 1865, 660 acres of Marsh Island turned what’s immediately generally known as the College of Maine.
For many of its existence, the college made little acknowledgement that it sat on Place of origin, or that the land had been acquired by way of unfair and in some circumstances unlawful ways. Previously decade, nevertheless, that’s began to vary.
UMaine now features a land acknowledgement in its press releases and public paperwork, noting that it’s situated on the homeland of the Penobscot Nation, and a 2018 memorandum of understanding consists of requirements for a way UMaine interacts with the Penobscot Nation. Just a few years in the past, signage was erected throughout campus exhibiting names of buildings and roads in each English and Penobscot — the language of the individuals who have been, unequivocally, there first.
Acquired a query about Maine historical past and tradition you’d like answered in Exhausting Telling Not Realizing? Electronic mail [email protected] and we’ll see if we will determine it out.