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Wabanaki Agency in the Proprietor Records

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Sovereignty and Subsistence

The protection of these relationships to land and kin are evident in the ways that Wabanaki leaders sought to reserve subsistence rights. For example, in a 1659 Kennebec River deed, Nanudemance retained “liberty unto me and my heirs to fish, fowl, and hunt also to set otter traps without molestation.” In a 1684 deed that is foundational to the Pejepscot Proprietors Papers, six Wabanaki leaders, including Darumkin and Warumbo, allowed Richard Wharton to purchase land and fisheries on Merrymeeting Bay but also reaffirmed the rights they retained:

Nothing in this deed [should] be construed to deprive us the Sagamores or Successors or People from improving our Ancient Planting grounds nor from hunting in any of the said land being not inclosed nor from fishing for our own provision so long as no damage shall be to the English Fishery.

Although deeds did not always recognize subsistence rights, Wabanaki leaders later reiterated in councils that they had reserved the sovereign aboriginal right to hunt, fish and plant in their homelands. These documents collectively demonstrate that Wabanaki people intended to remain.