Penobscot (pənŏbˈskŏt) [key], indigenous people of North America whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They were the largest group of the Abnaki Confederacy and resembled the other members culturally. In the early 17th cent. they inhabited the region around Penobscot Bay and the Penobscot River in Maine. A French mission was established among them in 1688 on the site of the present city of Bangor. The Penobscot were active in all the New England frontier wars, generally supporting the French, until 1749, when a peace treaty with the English put an end to their hostilities. The treaty created ill feeling with other Abnaki peoples, who remained firm supporters of the French. In 1750 the Penobscot numbered some 700. The assistance that the Penobscot gave the colonists in the American Revolution gained for them a reservation at Old Town, Maine. In 1990 there were some 2,400 Penobscot in the United States.
See F. G. Speck, Penobscot Man (1940, repr. 1970) and Penobscot Shamanism (1919, repr. 1974); P. Anastas, Glooskap's Children; Encounters with the Penobscot Indians of Maine (1973).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.