2015 Winning Essays

2015 Winning Essays

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First Place High School Division

Carolyn F.
9th Grade, Home School

European Influences on Wabanaki Clothing

Before the colonization of eastern North America, Native Americans had a unique style of dress unlike anything seen in Europe. But the arrival of English settlers soon changed the style of dress of the native people of Maine, the Wabanakis. Wabanaki tribes gradually disposed of their ancient raiment in favor of the new novelties brought on English boats to America. Over time, the influences of European colonists dramatically changed the material and styles of clothing worn by the Maine Native Americans. From deerskin and porcupine quills to broadcloth and beads, Maine Wabanakis have greatly changed their way of dress.

The main material used by Wabanaki tribes to make clothing was animal skin. The most commonly used animal skins were deer, moose and bear because they were thicker and bigger than other animal hides. Once the animal was skinned, the hides were fleshed (the remaining flesh, sinew, and hair is scraped off using rounded stone blades). Then the hide was tanned. To tan a hide, the Wabanaki women rubbed oil and birds liver onto the hide until it was soft and pliable. Once washed and dried, the skins could be made into garments. Traditionally, Wabanaki men wore clothing that included a breechcloth and leggings, both made from deerskin, in summer, and a deerskin robe in winter. Wabanaki women wore leggings and a robe in both summer and winter. Moccasins and boots were also made from deerskin and decorated, though in winter the moccasins were usually lined with rabbit furs for warmth.

Nearly all Wabanaki articles of clothing were adorned with embroidery or beading. Moose hair, often colored with natural dyes, was used to embroider intricate designs on the moccasins, sleeves, leggings and robes. Moose hair was also used to sew on wooden or shell beads in patterns on the clothing. The most common form of decoration on the Wabanakis clothes was porcupine quill embroidery. The quills were soaked in dye solutions derived from certain roots, berries or plant leaves to color them and then woven into complex patterns. These patterns were usually the main form of decoration on mens belts, moccasins, robes and leggings worn by the Wabanaki people.

This unique style of dress soon became obsolete with the arrival of English traders. Europeans brought with them new novelties such as woven broadcloth, glass beads, silk ribbon and more. They traded this merchandise to the tribes in exchange for animal skins. These man-made products were so much more colorful and durable than the Wabanakis deerskin that they started using it instead. Soon brightly colored cloth was replacing the buckskin used for leggings and moccasins. Instead of naturally dyed porcupine quills and moose hair, Wabanakis used glass beads, silk ribbon and silk thread to decorate their clothes. By the late 1700s, almost all Wabanaki garments in Maine were affected in some way by trade with the English settlers.

In conclusion, the arrival of European colonists and settlers in Maine wrought a great change in the clothing styles worn by Maine Native Americans. The colonists helped change Wabanaki dress forever by introducing new man-made material such as woven cloth, silk ribbons, and glass beads into the native culture. Since the 1600s, Wabanaki dress has gradually changed from the old styles of buckskin leggings to modern pants and shirts. Today, almost all tribes in Maine wear the style of clothes worn by American and Canadian people. Only on festive occasions, such as weddings, pow-wows, and religious ceremonies, do the native Wabanakis wear their traditional regalia.


Bourque, Bruce J. Uncommon Threads: Wabanaki Textiles, Clothing and Costume. Washington:
University of Washington Press, 2009.

Native American Clothing and Regalia. Native American Culture. Native Languages of America.
2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2015

Wabanaki Program of the American Friends Service Committee. The Wabanakis of Maine and the
Maritimes. Pennsylvania: American Friends Service Committee, 1989.

Wabanaki Regalia During the 18th and 19th Centuries. Historic Iroquois and Wabanaki Beadwork.
Iroquois and Wabanaki Beadwork. Oct. 21 2015. Web. Nov. 9 2015.

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1st Place Middle School Division

Riley Sullivan
7th Grade, Windsor Elementary School

The Ferocious War that changed the Native Americans World

Mother Natures alluring forest, engulfed in soldiers with Indians behind trees firing muskets at their enemy. The trees screaming from the bullets sinking into the cold hard wood. Instead of the calm, serene sounds of the forest there is the sound of the song Yankee Doodle which was inspired by their great battle. The Iroquois battles alongside the British, while some of the other Indians fight alongside the French, batting for control of land and power. Lets learn about the French-Indian War and why and how the Indians fought, helped, and the important points in this fierce war.

How you ever wondered about why and how the Indians fought Different Indians allied with different sides, like the Iroquois sided with the British just as some of the other Indians sided with the French. They didnt fight just because they wanted to, they fought because they thought the whites would protect their hunting grounds. They also fought for food, guns, and money. The weapons they fought with were different variations of bows, clubs, spears, and tomahawks. The weapons were quite interesting back then compared to the weapons we have now. Isnt it interesting to know how and why the Native American Indians fought

The Indians helped changed the course of the war. The French controlled the Great Lakes region and the British wanted it. When the Iroquois and the British sided, the French had to act quick. As a result, they sided with many of the other Indian tribes to help combat the British. Forts became an important part of the War. Governor William Shirley built Fort Halifax. At that same time William Pepperrell and his troops of Kittery captured a French fort at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia and raised their flag to signify that they had captured the fort. Its crazy how much the Indians changed the tide of the war, because without them even though they lost, the French would have never stood any chance against the British.

Here are the key facts in the French-Indian war. It began in 1754, and was called the seven year war, although in Maine the conflict lasted nine years. The French were allied with many Indian tribes just as Britishs only allies were the Iroquois. The reason they were fighting was over territory. The British wanted to take control of Canada and the Ohio Valley away from the French. Most of eastern America was either French or British territory, on the other hand the British ruled the tribes of the Atlantic Coast. The British defeated the French and they took control of Canada. Then the Treaty Of France ended the war and ended French claims to territory because they did not want the war to continue.

After the battle the forest is covered in dead bodies and weapons. The trees scream no more, for the great forest is destroyed. The forest had to pay the price for human disagreement. Mother Natures forest is now a graveyard, the number of deaths uncountable. The desolate forest all around. The people lost, irreplaceable. Their familys waiting for them to return. They are never to return home again.


Main Lesson The Baldwin Online Childrens Literature Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Maine Memory Network, Maines Online History Museum, a Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Maine.gov. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Mikmaq Spirit Home Page. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Penobscot Nation Cultural & Historic Preservation Department. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Nardo, Don. The Indian Wars. San Diego, CA: Lucent, 1991. Print. Save to

Siegel, Beatrice, William Sauts Bock, and Beatrice Siegel. Indians of the Northeast Woodlands. New York: Walker, 1992. Print.

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2nd Place Middle School Division - Tie

Emma Hutchinson
7th Grade, Windsor Elementary School

Ways of survival: Maine Native Americans

All winter, Maine Native Americans made the long, grueling trips to their favorite hunting grounds used for many generations to kill deer and moose. They spent dark nights spearing salmon and other fish so plentiful, they were like the stars in the sky, all taken from the huge, blue ocean, and unspoiled river. Then Native Americans spent long summers hoeing the rich, captivating land, unearthing the benefits of a plentiful corn, bean and squash harvest. These are the ways Maine Native Americans survived. Lets take a bite out of the way Maine Native Americans mastered the arts of hunting, fishing and agriculture.

The main way Maine Native Americans got the food necessary for survival was hunting. In the northern areas of Maine, people relied solely on hunting and fishing. Men were the hunters and knew all the habits of the animals. The hunters gave thanks to the spirits of the animals, and the spirits that helped them succeed in the hunt. Hunters only killed what was necessary to survive. When men went on long hunting trips in the winter time, the whole family came. Small wigwams were set up as temporary lodging for the family. While the man used his traps, long spears, short daggers, and bow and arrows, the woman and children checked the traps daily. Then the woman would often skin clean, and pack the meat at the hunting site. Once the family had all the meat they needed, the man, woman and older children carried the meat miles back home to the village. This work was hard and took a long time. Thankfully, the natives discovered a few things to make the work easier. They used snowshoes to walk along the snow covered Maine forest. If the family was lucky, they had a sled to help pull the meat. They also used warm furs that were caught in their traps. The furs, when used as clothes and blankets, kept the family warm against strong, whistling winds, and frostbite. Eventually Europeans found about these spectacular hunting skills, and could not get their hands on enough furs, mainly beaver pelts. The intense trapping in the fur trade immensely depleted populations of the animals, and eventually lead to wars among the Native Americans. On the other hand, however, their extraordinary, yet crafty ways of hunting and trapping were never forgotten.

The Maine Native Americans often relied upon fishing in the summertime to sustain them, especially the northern and eastern tribes. Fish were a sensational treat for the Native Americans, as they were tired of the dreary meat theyd had all winter long. Spring, summer, and fall were when fish were most plentiful. Signs of nature were sometimes used to know when to fish for what type of fish. For example, when the lightning bugs appeared, it was time to fish salmon. They were caught at night with torches that lured them to the surface and were then speared or shot with bows and arrows. Salmon were not the only fish eaten. The Abenakis and Micmacs fished for smelt, salmon, bass, and even sturgeon. They used nets, spears, traps, bow and arrows, bare hands, and lines with hooks and sinkers, much like a fishing pole, to catch fish. The Maine Native Americans also used canoes to fish on rivers and bays. Nets were placed in freshwater streams and snatched up bass, salmon, sturgeon, and mackerel. Nets also caught saltwater mackerel and haddock. Sometimes the Micmacs of northern Maine would harpoon porpoises or small whales. These delicacies were cut up and given away as gifts to neighbors. After years of fishing for survival, these Maine Natives eventually went out in deep waters and discovered how to hunt a new food source, the swordfish. The Maine Native Americans have passed on the loved tradition of fishing the beautiful Maine harbor, rivers, and streams to the new generations.

Though the Northern and Eastern Maine Native Americans relied mostly upon hunting and fishing for sustainment, the western Natives that lived below the Kennebec River were seen in the 1400-1500 by Samuel De Champlain to have been growing corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, and tobacco. Women were the farmers, though the men helped break the soil for planting. The women and children planted, weeded, and picked the crops. The children also had a job of their own. They shooed away the hungry birds ready to devour the crops. The Natives had numerous ways to help hoe and dig the rich soil. Sometimes a shoulder blade bone of a moose, deer, or bear, or a large, thick shell would be attached to a stick, and used as a hoe. Sometimes, however, they would simply use a stick or bone. When the time came to plant, they used these tools to dig large holes every three feet. They were then filled with pumpkin, bean, and squash seeds. Fertilizer was also placed in the holes. The fertilizer was generally two dead fish. Once the plants began to grow, a large mound of dirt was placed around the base of the plant. Corn was the Maine Native Americans most valuable food. Tobacco was also planted and cared for by the men. By July the crops were ready to harvest. Not all agriculture was grown, however, as the Natives were also scavengers and gatherers. Some of the tribes loved grassberries, also known as strawberries. Though sometimes grown, these special treats were usually harvested wild by old women and children. Though strawberries were the favorite, wild thimble berries, blackberries, shadberries, raspberries, and elderberries were also eaten. Its amazing how diverse the agriculture and gathered foods of the Maine Native Americans really were.

In the end, the Maine Native Americans survived through their love of the taste of their wild freedom

The strength of the fire,
the taste of salmon,
the trail of the sun,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me.
And my heart soars.
-Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh (1899-1981)


Article Archives: Mikmaq Spiritual Traditions [archive]. Article Archives: Mikmaq Spiritual Traditions. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Mikmaw Culture Spirituality Medicines. Mikmaw Culture Spirituality Medicines. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Mikmaw Culture Spirituality. Mikmaw Culture Spirituality. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Marsh, Carole. Maine Native Americans: A Kids Look at Our States Chiefs, Tribes, Reservations, Powwows, Lore, and More from the past and the Present. Peachtree City, GA: Gallopade International/Carole Marsh, 2004. Print.

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2nd Place Middle School Division - Tie

Avery Henningsen
7th Grade, Windsor Elementary School

Maine Native American Weapons

Imagine that youre an Native American living in Maine 500 years ago. You rely on rough stone and wooden weapons for your very survival. Now lets imagine that you have to make a powerful bow and arrows for hunting, or a strong spear or tomahawk for some furious war thats about to happen. How would you make all of these weapons, such as longbows that could pierce a moose hide from 30 feet away, or a tomahawk that would stop your enemy To find out, well take a stab into the history of Native American weaponry, which includes spears, war and ritual axes, and the great and powerful bow and arrows.

One important weapon for the Native Americans was spears. Spears were essential for Native Americans. They were used for hunting and protection. Spears date back from ancient times. They usually have stone or bone spearheads, but they were still razor sharp. They were made of wood. Many spears were used for hunting and warfare. Spears were generally used as a piercing weapon only. Native American spears in Maine became particularly powerful when the invention of the atlatl came about. You might have heard of it, but via a different name such as spear-throwers, throwing-sticks, or throwing boards. An atlatl is a slender wooden shaft with a hollow cup at one end. The spear thrower would balance the end of the spear shaft in the cup and swing it at the target. When the europeans came to Maine, atlatls were used to pierce chain mail. Metal war lances were prestigious weapons of mounted warriors. Metal warheads were not around till the Europeans came. Then they became the weapons of choice for melees. As a result of spears, Native Americans were able to survive.

Hatchets were also very important to survival of the Native Americans. They were used to split and carve wood for everyday life, as well as, for war. Stone axes were tools and ritual objects. They took on a very ceremonial importance in some tribes. Pipe tomahawks were the most ceremonial of all the tomahawks. Pipe tomahawks were usually made from unwieldy carved heads that were very ornate and shapely. The body of the pipe on the back meant peace and the axehead and handle were symbolic for war. They were never actually used for vicious war or tiresome work. However the tomahawk wasnt actually a weapon until Europeans came. Tomahawk means Indian style fighting hatchets. Many tomahawks were prized for their versatility. An important fact is the lengths of the different handles. For short throwing hatchets the shaft was only about one foot, but for the humongous two handed war axes (that were as strong as oaks) the handles were nearly three feet long. Without a doubt spears were very useful for the Native Americans to remain strong.

The most important weapon to the Native Americans was the breathtaking bow. It was the all powerful weapon of the Native Americans in Maine. Native American bows were made of wood. The bows stood five or six feet tall, or as tall as the man who made it. The most remarkable bows were made from the core of branches or logs, and were thicker in the middle for strength and superior grip. Long bows were used to hunt larger game, while short bows were used for smaller game. Backing bows with animal sinew made them stronger. Some were made from animal horn and layers of sinew could shoot straight through a moose, which is highly important to the survival of the Native Americans! Bows were made from ash, hickory, witch hazel, oak, beech, rock maple, juniper, willow, osage orange, cedar, walnut, and birch trees. But how did they make a bow To start theyd have to shape the bow. The bark on the wood was cut off with a knife, and a hatchet was used to cut off extra wood. To bend the wood into shape, they heated the wood over a slow fire, again and again so that it took shape. After they had bent it, they tied leather thongs around the middle for grip. Then they cut notches about one inch into the ends of the bow for bow strings. At the end of the operation theyd paint, carve, oil and polish the bow. Bowstrings were very important to bows, they were made from animal guts, sinew, plant fibers, nettles, dogbane, milkweed, or the inner bark of basswood or vukka. Arrows were wooden like the bows. They were made from dry seasoned, slender, lightweight wood, such as hickory, ash, viburnum, white oak, reeds, and elder tree. The arrows were about half the size of the bow. A short bow shaft was about one foot and for long bows the shafts were one yard or more. Small game such as rabbits and beavers were shot with sharpened shafts of wood. On one end of the shaft three feathers were bound to the shaft. Feathers were used to balance out the weight of the arrowhead, as well as, helping the arrow fly straight. The feathers were vulture, wild turkey, crow, and hawk, but sometimes less common feathers were used for the most glamorous arrows. Arrowheads were either flint or other hard stone. Arrowheads were usually triangular and had incredibly sharp heads. Hunters left the arrowhead in the animal and took it out at home to be used again. Undeniably bows and arrows were an amazing factor of the Native Americans life and survival.

Rough weapons such as war tomahawks, strong spears, and powerful bows kept the Native Americans in Maine alive. But what if their weaponry had been as advanced or even more advanced than the Europeans What would Maine be like now if the Maine Native Americans had been triumphant in all of their wars Maine would be a completely different place!


Native American Indian Weapons. Native American Weapons: Bows and Arrows, Spears, Tomahawks, War Clubs, and Other American Indian Weaponry. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Siegel, Beatrice, William Sauts Bock, and Beatrice Siegel. Indians of the Northeast Woodlands. New York: Walker, 1992. Print.

How to Make a Bow. How to Make a Bow ***. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

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