Rokomeko - The Great Corn Land

Canton Point was formerly the headquarters of the Anasagunticook (or Androscoggin) band of the Abenaki tribe.  The Abenaki tribe is a member of the Wabanaki Confederacy.  Wabanaki means “People of the Dawn Land.”  Molly Ockett is probably the most well known Abenaki in Western Maine.

The Anasagunticooks named their village Narakamigou.  The name has been transliterated to Rokomeko—or variations thereof—and is thought to mean “great corn land” or “place where they hoed corn.”  Anasagunticook, which also has multiple alternate spellings, means “river of rock shelters.”

In 1864,“The Historical Magazine” by John G. Shea, published the following:

The Rokomekos had their headquarters at Canton Point, and this may be considered the centre of the Indian population on the whole [Androscoggin] river.  They were a semi-agricultural people.  The broad intervales [or a low-lying tract of land along a river], to the extent of several hundred acres, were cleared and cultivated with corn.  From what can be gleaned of their condition, it is probable that they were among the most populous of any tribe in Maine, previous to 1617….

According to the website www.warpaths2peacepipes.com:

The Abenaki were farmers, hunter/gatherers, and fishers. [They] lived in wigwams, tepees or longhouses and their clothes were distinguished by the ethnically distinct, pointed or peaked hoods.  [Their] lightweight Birch Bark canoes were broad enough to float in shallow streams, strong enough to shoot dangerous rapids, and light enough for one man to easily carry a canoe on his back.

And according to the website www.native-languages.org:

Up to 75% of Native Americans in New England died of European diseases in the 1500's and 1600's. After each disaster, the survivors of neighboring villages merged together, and…retreated into Canada to avoid attacks.  Today, 2000 Abenakis live on two reserves in Quebec, and another 10,000 Abenaki descendants are scattered throughout New England.

Story by Liz Rothrock