After it was willed nearly the entirety of an Old Town man’s estate, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine plans to donate his collection of more than 1,500 Penobscot Nation artifacts to the tribe.
Before the tribe officially accepts the trove of important artifacts, however, staff at the Maine State Museum in Augusta will take temporary possession of the collection and catalog each item that belonged to the late Erick Hutchins, who died in December 2017.
The collection includes hundreds of arrowheads, spearheads, jewelry items, hand axes and other hand tools. Penobscot Nation tribal historic preservation officer Chris Sockalexis estimates many of them could be up to 4,000 years old, and that some of them likely had their origins in Nova Scotia and were traded to the Penobscot people.
“It’s really a significant archive,” Sockalexis said. “When I first got to take a look at it back in December it really was just like, ‘whoa.’ I don’t know that we have ever received a collection of this size.”
David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, had no idea his organization had been named a beneficiary in Hutchins’ will until he received a letter last winter asking for the organization’s help in settling his estate. When Trahan visited Hutchins’ Old Town home last year, the first thing he noticed inside were display cases on the walls each containing between 100 and 150 arrowheads.
While working to piece together the rest of Hutchins’ collection, Trahan realized the importance of the archive, and contacted the Maine State Museum and the Penobscot Nation in order to begin cataloging it, with an eventual plan — per Hutchins’ request — to give all the items to their rightful owners.
“We knew it needed to be handled with respect and care,” Trahan said. “Luckily, he kept a ledger that documented where he found every item and other information, so that really helped us in understanding what exactly we had.”