Early Maine inhabitants

Nomadic Paleo-Indians and Red-Paint people

Imagine living nearly 12,000 years ago when masses of glacial ice still existed in parts of northern Maine and the weather was extremely cold. This was when the first humans, the nomadic Paleo-Indians arrived in what would become the state of Maine. As the land was recovering from the ice age, the first people of Maine moved in from the south or west. Evidence suggests that the first inhabitants of Maine were descendants of early ice age hunters who hunted large animals such as caribou and musk ox. Historical evidence suggests that these Paleo-Indians disappeared from the area because of extreme climate changes.

After the disappearance of the Paleo-Indians, a new, interesting culture emerged that has kept archaeologists intrigued for many years because of their burial practices. Little is known of these "Red-Paint" people, so named because of the clay that they used to line the graves of their dead. They would line the graves with bright red ocher, powdered hematite and unusual stone artifacts, which suggests that these early Red Paint people had extremely detailed burial rituals.

Paleo-Indian ArtifactsPaleo-Indian Artifacts. Photo courtesy of Maine State Museum. Red-Paint ArtifactsRed-Paint Artifacts. Photo courtesy of Maine State Museum.