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Sieur de Monts National Monument (now Acadia National Park), Maine

(NPS Photo)  Pink granite coastline at Acadia National Park

Native Americans lived in the Acadian region and on Mt. Desert Island for over 6,000 years before Europeans exploring the coast and seeking resources for trade recorded their meetings. In the early 17th century, Samuel Champlain, cartographer for a French expedition from 1604-1607, described the landscape and the native peoples in his journal of French exploration along the coast. Soonafter, the coastal Indians were joined by French Jesuits, who established a mission. Their settlement soon was destroyed by the English, commencing a period of struggle for control over the Northeast. Free land was offered to British colonists in 1759 and a series of projects sought to establish towns in New England. By 1820, farming and lumbering vied with fishing and shipbuilding as major occupations. Over the next several decades, artists and journalists helped to popularize the region to affluent summertime vacationers.

On July 8, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Presidential Proclamation to establish Sieur de Monts National Monument for its connection to Samuel de Champlain and the “topographic configuration, the geology, the fauna and flora of the island ... are also of great scientific interest” (Proc. No. 1339). The name of the National Monument was changed in 1919 by an act of Congress to Lafayette National Park. A decade later, in 1929, the name of the park was changed to Acadia National Park.

Today, around 3 million people every year enjoy the 48,000 acres protected by Acadia National Park. Developed originally as a sanctuary both for animal wildlife and for humans living in nearby cities, the resource management and park interpretation programs broaden the understanding of Native American life and colonial settlement. Archeological resources document over 6,000 years of human occupation. Archeological investigations on Mount Desert Island found native settlements along the seashore, as well as shell middens containing ceramics and tools. The Abbe Museum's archeological collections consist of a variety of more than 50,000 objects spanning 10,000 years of history up to the present. The park collections also contain prehistoric and historic archeological materials pertaining to Ancestral Wabanaki sites in the park, the Carroll Farm Homestead, Islesford (Little Cranberry Island), and the settlement of Saint Croix Island.

Recent visitors described their feelings about the significance of Acadia National Park:

  • “Acadia is the ‘gem’ of the northeast. We come every summer and always have new places to explore. It’s so important to preserve all our national parks – they may be the only places that will stay the same in 100’s of years.”
  • “Exceptional variety, beauty, historical interest.”
  • “It connects us to our history – geological, political, cultural, and industrial. And its public availability is the essence of our democratic ideal.”
  • “Acadia epitomizes the coastal beauty of Maine, and provides an opportunity for many people to experience it.”
  • “‘A National Legacy for Future Generations.’ I came here as a child for years and now bring my children.”
  • “Didn’t realize we had Indian ruins in such good condition.”
  • “Sharing history with my children.”
  • “We cannot emphasize enough the importance of preserving these sites and the development of accurate knowledge of ancient cultures.”

(Source: Visitor Survey Card / Visitor Services Project, University of Idaho, 2000-2003.)



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