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The Penobscot Dance of Resistance
Tradition in the History of a People
Pauleena MacDougall

New Hampshire
2004 • 264 pp. 14 b+w 6 x 9"
Native American Studies

$24.95 Paperback, 978-1-58465-381-3

MacDougall's account successfully combines her documentary and field research. ... Recommended.”Choice

An intriguing history of the survival of a Native American people.

Although historians predicted the demise of the Penobscot Indians early in the nineteenth century, the tribe is thriving at the opening of the twenty-first century. Having by the early 1800s been rendered all but invisible to the dominant culture, the Penobscots, by selectively adapting to changing circumstances, won back land and visibility. The vital importance of employing elements of cultural resistance as a survival mechanism has, until now, been underestimated. In a larger context, Dance of Resistance demonstrates how an examination of the history of one Indian nation provides a window on the complex interaction of cultural systems in America.

MacDougall demonstrates that Penobscot legend, linguistics, dance, and oral tradition became "foundations of resistance" against assimilation into the dominant culture. She thoughtfully and accessibly reconstructs from published, archival, and oral sources the tribe’s metaphorical and triumphant "Dance of Resistance"—founded on spiritual power, reverence for homeland, and commitment to self-determination—from colonial times to the present. A decade of political activism culminated in the precedent-setting 1980 Maine Indian Land Claims settlement. Today the Penobscots run small industries, manage their natural resources, and provide health services, K through 8 education, and social services to the poor and elderly of their community.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Based largely on primary sources from archives and fieldwork, MacDougall uses the metaphor of dance to illustrate how the Penobscots have been able to preserve their culture in the face of European domination, pressure, and assimilation . . . the book is an informative description of the Penobscot situation, which parallels the history of most other Native American groups.”—Journal of Folklore Research

"MacDougall shows how the tribe has changed in enormous ways just as the wider society has in the past couple of centuries."Bangor Daily News

"[A] thought-provoking model for success and survival that is discussed in this thorough and intriguing book."
Indian Country Newspaper and Whispering Wind Magazine

"The Penobscot Dance of Resistance focuses on the cultural history of one of the major native peoples in the present state of Maine. By delineating the story of this one specific group, the Penobscot, Pauleena MacDougall joins those scholars who trace the individual cultural threads of particular peoples that form the rich tapestry of American history."Journal of American Folklore

"For Native communities who share similar convictions, this book is a worthwhile read. This book is an informative lesson about the history of a strong tribe."—Cherokee One Feather

PAULEENA MACDOUGALL, Associate Director of the Maine Folklife Center (MFC), received her Ph.D. in American history from the University of Maine in 1995. She has worked for MFC since 1989 and is also faculty associate at the University of Maine in Anthropology, where she teaches courses in linguistics and Native American folklore. Since 1979, MacDougall has published numerous papers on the Penobscot Indian language, culture, and history. She is editor of Northeast Folklore and is currently writing a biography of Maine folklorist and historian Fannie Hardy Eckstorm.

Tue, 15 May 2018 12:58:55 -0500