In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Wabanaki Agency in the Proprietor Records

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Kinship and Leadership

It was not uncommon to see multiple Wabanaki leaders sign deeds, or to see the same leaders sign deeds for the same land, with different settlers. For example, “Robin Hood” or Ramegin, appeared on more than fifteen agreements, often with other leaders. Warrabitta witnessed a deed signed by Robin Hood, in 1675, on the Wescustogo (Royal) River, and appeared on a deed regarding land on Merriconeag Neck with Robin Hood and her brother Sagattawan. Many documents in these collections feature locations where multiple communities intersect, such as a deed that came late in Warrabitta’s life, at Small Point, in Casco Bay, in which “Blind Joan” appeared along with “Great Agumagus” or Moxus, a Kennebec River leader, and Sheepscot John, a Wabanaki leader on the coast. Places like Small Point, and the councils that took place there, were not boundaries as much as confluences. Nearby Merrymeeting Bay was an English placename which recognized Wabanaki purpose.

Just as multiple rivers converge in Casco Bay and Merrymeeting Bay, so multiple communities converge in Wabanaki kinship networks. Leaders cultivated diplomacy through councils. Many deeds emerged from such councils, which included English newcomers. In Wabanaki languages and traditional stories, these relationships are paramount. It is difficult to talk about land or people without using kinship terms, terms that embed relationships of responsibility and reciprocity, which Wabanaki leaders sought to preserve.