Bonnie Newsom

I am an Indigenous archaeologist interested in the pre-contact lifeways of Maine’s Native peoples. Most of my research has occurred within the Penobscot River Valley in Maine focusing heavily on Native peoples living during the Ceramic Period (ca. 3050-250 years ago). Through my research, I seek to humanize people in the past by exploring concepts of identity, style, social boundaries, and human agency. Most recently, my research has focused on population distinctions in pre-contact Maine through an analysis of potters’ choices in the manufacture of aboriginal ceramics from Maine’s coastal and interior settings. As a faculty member at UMaine, I will continue to build a portfolio of research dedicated to exploring some of Maine archaeology’s most interesting and unresolved questions.

My archaeological experience in Maine includes working in the cultural resources management sector as well as serving as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Penobscot Indian Nation. These experiences provide me with a well-rounded knowledge of Maine’s archaeological record. They also inspire my interests in historic preservation law, tribal intellectual property rights, Indigenous archaeologies theory and methods, and issues of cultural identity and cultural connectedness.

I have a strong interest in archaeological theory and understanding the foundational principles that guide archaeological research. I am particularly fond of reading old archaeological manuscripts, not only to understand the history of a particular site, but also to understand archaeologists in an anthropological way. For me, the history, motivations, and experiences of archaeologists as people are important components of their archaeological interests and interpretations.

As a member of the Penobscot Indian Nation, my professional efforts generally include ways to create space for Indigenous voices. To that end, I worked to establish an archaeology program at Penobscot Nation and to establish solid working relationships with heritage professionals in the state and across the nation. I have also served on numerous boards and committees at both the local and national levels. Currently, I serve as Chair of the Repatriation Review Committee for the Smithsonian Institution and was recently appointed to the Maine State Museum Commission.