The Ancient Dominions of Maine

It is particularly noteworthy that early accounts of natives of the central Maine coast, other than of Verrazano's first contact with what may have been trading Micmacs, recount assertions of a refined and sophisticated native country.  These descriptions more aptly described a culture with semi-permanent villages as part of a larger nearly monarchical confederacy, rather than wandering communities of hunting and gathering nomads.

A detailed, if romanticized, description of both the Wawenoc Indians and Mawooshen is excerpted from Rufus King Sewall's 1896 article on Mavooshen in the Lincoln County News (pg. 124-125).

Ma-voo-shan or (Mo-a-aap) was the name of a land-fall of Gosnold in 1602, within 43º N.L.

...The land thus made and described Hutchinson tells us was called "Ma-voo-shan," and Strachey says that Gosnold's land-fall and landing was about Sagadahoc.  Mavooshen was a country bounded east by the Tarratines or Penobscots and south on the sea.  The chief was called Bashaba and his country called Mo-a-shan or Ma-voo-shan.

Gosnold has given the earliest record descriptive of the race dwelling in Ma-voo-shen:

A Biscay shallop with mast, sail, iron grapnel and a copper kettle, with eight native sailors--a people tall of stature, broad built and grim visaged, clothed more or less in European costume, came boldly on shipboard.  They would use some Christian words and with a piece of chalk they mapped out the new country for the benefit of the English voyagers.

...The people were not tall nor big but symmetrical and comely, and their bodies were painted.  They were courteous in demeanor.  They were quick of perception, good understanding and of great curiosity.  They would eat nothing raw.  Their arms were bows and arrows, the bow carved and shaped out of the witch-hazel and beech and made in fashion of an English bow; and in drawing the bow to shoot it was done after the English manner.

Some of them supped on ship-board and attended evening worship and behaved with great decorum.  Food in pewter dishes was given them for their companions on shore.  The vessels were carefully returned.  Their arrows were headed with the long shank bone of the wild deer, made very sharp with two fangs and in the shape of a harpoon.

They signified that their ruler was a king whom they called "Bashaba," and by signs and speech, pointing to the main, eastward, indicated his place of abode and the ship which they called 'Quid-en," they desired should be unmoored and taken up to it, pointing up into the main whence they came, from the eastward.  They were Pemaquid people.

One of these people, who seemed to be of eminent authority among them, had a coronet made very cunningly of a substance like stiff hairs colored red and broad more than a handfull deep.  It was a badge of his royal relationship.

...They were Pemaquid natives and not only sea-faring in their habits, but whale-fishers.  In pursuing these monsters of the deep a flotilla of canoes were gathered and formed into line for chase.  The Bashaba headed the procession, seated in the foremost boat, and all in due order, glided into the wake of the whale, watching his rising and when he broke water on the surface, the royal arm was raised and with a bone made harpoon tethered to a rope great and strong twisted from the bark of trees; the King drove it into the body of the fish, as all whale-men do.  The King-stricken fish plunging to watery depths, is followed by the royal band, in veering out the bark made-rope and when wearied with the chase the fish again seeks air at the surface, the line of canoes environ it, and the boatmen shoot their bone made arrows into his body on every side till killed.  Thereupon they tow the fish ashore, cut it up and boil it for food.  The process tries out the oil therein which is taken off and preserved to season their food of pease, corn and pulse.

...They were a quick-witted, good natured race, very ingenious and of great capacity, and for state occasions, made courtly display in royal purple and feathers.

The peculiar features in the habits of this people were the use of copper and bone in ornament and the armature of the implements, for the chase and for war.

It was among the people of "Ma-voo-shen"--the "Mo-a-sans" of Port Popham--that his colony of 1607 was planted.  But the Pemaquid natives, kidnapped by Weymouth, one of whom was a chief, had most of them returned to their former home and prepared the way for friendly recognition, to the English emigrants.

...A contemporary and promotor of the enterprise has left a brief and comprehensive account of this people and their fate.

The region was very populous--inhabitants stout and warlike and well fed.  Their civil polity was monarchical and the style of the head of government was "Bashaba."

He controlled a wide dominion; had many great subjects auxiliary in war, commanding some a thousand and some fifteen hundred bowmen.  The Bashaba was imperial in administration and feudal in his political relations, and his authority extended to the Saco, west from the Pemaquid shores of the Penobscot, his own chief abode, being not far from Pemaquid, and his people being eminent above all others in this part of the continent.[italics added]

The Tarratines, the East Penobscot natives, a fierce and more barbarious race, were hostile to the Wa-wen-ocks

...Other writers have described other features of this imperial people.  De Laet writes that these people were unlike the other aborigines of Maine.  They not only would eat nothing raw, but had fixed and permanent dwelling places--were agricultural in their habits, planting corn and beans together; and they lived some twelve miles north of Kennebec, where was a bay having in its bosom a large number of Islands.

This intimation as to residence, makes Boothbay a conspicuous location, on the coast; and the shell-heaps of Damariscotta become of great interest as the site of interior homes.

...On the breaking up of their empire, the Wa-wen-ocks were scattered and wasted.  But remnants of the race for more than a century lingered about the ancient seat of their empire and the graves of their fathers.  The last and most noted was "Wi-wur-na," who at the treaty of Georgetown, in a speech, remarkable for its pungency, clearness and force, stood up for his race in an eloquent plea against the encroachments of the whites.  A relic of that race, which at the advent of the English to the coasts of Maine, fostered the opening of colonial life and English commerce at Sagadahoc and Pemaquid, and between 1602 and 16 held the country of Ma-voo-shan for English homesteads, whose favorite and populous haunts were at and near the famous oyster beds of the Sheepscot and Damariscotta, and known as the "Wa-wen-ocks."  Wiwurna appeared as a waif among the Noridgewock Indians, but an orator, in the crisis of final issues, at the climax of a century of blood and conflict between the native and foreign races.  The speech of Wiwurna on Georgetown heights was the last public assertion, the final plea and appeal against English invasion, in behalf of his people.

Wiwurna and the Wawenocks thereafter disappear, both from the forum and in the field, leaving no trace of blood or outrage in the track, and is no more heard of except amid the solitudes near the shell heaps of the lake on whose head-lands, near the sources of the Sheepscot, tradition has left a record on Wi-wur-na Point, Damariscotta Pond.

See The Ancient Dominions of Maine: Norumbega Reconsidered and the Wawenoc Diaspora for more information on Mawooshen and the Wawenoc Indians.