May 26, 2018
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Maine Coast Heritage Trust preserves ancient rock carvings in Machiasport

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

MACHIASPORT, Maine — With the recent acquisition of a local waterfront property, officials hope that ancient shorefront markings at the site will be preserved for generations to come.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust announced last week that it has acquired a 66-acre property at Long Point on Machias Bay that includes 3,000-year-old petroglyphs carved into waterfront rocks. The petroglyphs are believed to have been carved into the rock by Wabanaki people, who were the indigenous precursor to Maine’s modern Indian tribes.

The markings at Long Point are similar to other ancient Wabanaki petroglyphs found elsewhere along the shore in eastern Maine, including the Picture Rocks site at Birch Point on the far side of the mouth of the Machias River. That property also was conserved as part of a project involving MCHT and the Passamaquoddy Tribe in 2006.

Patrick Watson, project manager for MCHT, said this week that the group had a one-year option on the Long Point property that was coming to a close. Before MCHT acquired the option, a developer unsuccessfully sought to create a 26-lot subdivision on the peninsula property.

Watson said MCHT is looking to raise $1.1 million to cover the cost of acquiring and managing the property, which will be publicly accessible. He said the trust hopes to put in a parking lot and a few trails so that people can enjoy activities at the site such as bird-watching, hiking or shellfish harvesting.

Access to the petroglyphs on the property is expected to be limited to Passamaquoddy tribal and research functions, MCHT officials said.

In a prepared statement released by MCHT, University of Maine associate professor of anthropology Brian Robinson said the project is significant for protecting the cultural history of the region. Since this spring, Robinson has been involved in archaeological research of a shell midden on the property.

“Long Point holds important insight into the rich heritage of the Wabanaki, and particularly for understanding the cultural landscape of the petroglyphs that link Machias Bay and broader cultural regions,” Robinson said in the statement. “Conservation of Long Point brings recognition to the depth of these relationships.”

Donald Soctomah, historic preservation officer for the Passamaquoddy Tribe, indicated that MCHT’s acquisition of the property is a welcome development for the tribe.

“There is something very spiritual about the petroglyphs. They represent our people’s history and stories of our culture,” Soctomah said in the MCHT statement. “We are very pleased to know that this sacred site has been spared from development.”

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