The Indian Township Reservation is the largest reservation in the state of Maine. Indian Township consists of two neighborhoods– Peter Dana Point is located at Big Lake, and Indian Township overlooks Lewy Lake. The Treaty of 1794 between the tribe and Commonwealth of Massachusetts established the Indian Township Reservation.
The Passamaquoddy Tribes have been in the northeastern United States for several thousand years. They are an Eastern Woodlands tribe and are closely related to the Penobscot, Maliseet, Micmac, and Abenaki tribes. The Passamaquoddy Tribe is one of several members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, an alliance formed among local tribes in the 18th century. The tribe’s indigenous language is an Algonquian dialect. During the colonial period, traditional Passamaquoddy land and resources became a point of dispute as both the French and the English attempted to gain control of the area. This competition escalated into the French and Indian Wars. The indigenous groups in Maine generally sided with the French. The Passamaquoddy people generally disliked and distrusted the English settlers, perhaps fueling their decision to support American colonists during the Revolutionary War.
In 1856, the state of Maine established the Passamaquoddy Trust Fund with funds earned from the sale of timber and resources from tribal lands. The fund was intended to provide emergency assistance to eligible tribal members. The lack of employment opportunities near the Pleasant Point and Indian Township communities contributed to the large number of people requiring financial assistance. By the 20th century, tribal members of both reservations sought employment as migrant laborers. By the 1960s, many tribal members were forced to leave the region in search of work. During that time, the tribes considered legal recourse for the loss of tribal lands and sued the state of Maine. The Maine Indian Land Claim Settlement Act of 1980 was eventually negotiated. This provided funds for the tribes to buy back tribal lands at fair market value, and to invest in various business ventures. The act also created a trust fund from which tribal members would be paid.
The Indian Township Reservation is governed by a six-member council, which is led by a governor and lieutenant governor. The Indian Township and Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy tribal councils form the Passamaquoddy Joint Tribal Council. The joint tribal council is responsible for issues that affect both groups, such as jointly owned businesses, tribal land issues, and trust responsibility concerns. Also, since 1820, a tribal representative is elected every four years and is sent to the Maine State Legislature.