An anthropologist's narrative that honors the Maine Native American Wabanaki

The second edition of At the Place of the Lobsters and Crabs: Indian People and Deer Isle, Maine, 1605–2005 by William A. Haviland has been published by Maine’s Polar Bear and Company. The book is now available world wide through Ingram.

For thousands of years, native people lived, loved and labored on Deer Isle as well as the surrounding islands and peninsulas of east Penobscot Bay. Then, just over 400 years ago, their lives were disrupted by the arrival of strangers who, over the next 150 years, took control of their homeland. But the original people didn’t just go away. Instead, they survived this assault by adapting in creative ways to life in a world controlled by others.

This book is the story of their cultural survival in one particular neighborhood of the Maine coast over the past 400 years.

“My memories of Deer Isle extend back into the late 1930’s, and among them are memories of the Mitchells, the Penobscot family that regularly came to the island to sell baskets and other handcrafted items. Their ancestors are said to have always lived in the region ‘near the lobsters and crabs,’ hence the title of this book,” said author William A. Haviland.

“I grew up aware as well of the presence of the many shell middens indicative of an ancient Indian presence. Throughout my schooling, Indians always fascinated me, and it was this that led me to anthropology. Ultimately, I spent over 45 years researching, teaching about, and working with various groups of this continent’s First Nations.”

Nicholas Smith, PhD who taught at Bowdoin College said, “Haviland’s work fills a long void since the last Indian romanticized tales that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Haviland’s research breaks barriers in citing the Indian families that continued to live in their traditional manner and gained acceptance as well-respected citizens in their communities during the 19th and 20th centuries.” 

“Haviland’s own culture as an American, a Mainer, a scholar with a lifetime connection to Deer Isle, all weave together in the tale of a place in Maine and the native population that occupied that area over time. Although Haviland is not a Native American, his unique perspective and open-mindedness have crafted a narrative that honors the Maine Native American Wabanaki who have historically occupied this place,” added James Eric Francis, Sr., Tribal Historian Penobscot Nation.

At the Place of the Lobsters and Crabs: Indian People and Deer Isle, Maine, 1605–2005 was published in cooperation with the Deer Isle - Stonington Historical Society.

More about the author:

Photo of William A. Haviland by Ramona du Houx

William A. Haviland studied anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his PhD in 1963. He is now professor emeritus at the University of Vermont, where he founded the Department of Anthropology. Previously he taught at Hunter and then Barnard College in New York City. He has done archaeological work in Belize, Guatemala, South Dakota, and Vermont.

He studied the bones of kings and commoners at the ancient Maya city of Tikal and carried out ethnographic and ethnohistorical research in Maine and Vermont. His one hundred or so publications include ten books, among these five textbooks, one on Vermont Indians (co-authored with Marjorie Power) and two monographs on work done at Tikal, Guatemala.

Haviland and his wife, Anita, live on Deer Isle, where he serves on the boards of the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society and Island Heritage Trust.

His environment and passion for anthropology led him to write, At the Place of the Lobsters and Crabs: Indian People and Deer Isle, Maine, 1605–2005.

120pp, Quality Paperback, ISBN 978-1-882190-97-3, US $15.95

Polar Bear & Company, PO Box 311, Solon, Maine  04979,  a branch of the non-profit Solon Center for Research and Publishing, 20 Main Street, Rockland, Maine  04841