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3,000 Year Old Petroglyph Site Regained By Passamaquoddy Tribe

Maine Coast Heritage Trust Is Key Partner In Land/Easement Swap

Machias, ME, (October 20, 2006) — The Passamaquoddy Tribe, and Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT), a statewide land conservation organization, today announced completion of an agreement in which the 5.5 acre Picture Rocks property in Machiasport has been acquired by the tribe in exchange for a conservation easement given to MCHT on nearby tribal lands.


Peter Gommers/Medowin, Inc.

Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and Tribal State Legislative Representative Donald Soctomah expressed strong enthusiasm about the agreement. “There is something very spiritual about the petroglyphs and about this land returning to the Passamaquoddy people. It represents our people’s history and stories of our culture. We look forward to educating the tribal children and the public about this important historical site, and protecting it for future generations.” Patrick Watson, project manager at MCHT added, “This is a win-win for us and the tribe. We’re thrilled to be partnering on a project that returns control of this sacred place to the Passamaquoddy while at the same time furthering our land conservation goals in the region.”


MCHT president Jay Espy hands Passamaquoddy Chief Rick Doyle the deed to the Picture Rocks lands in Machiasport.  As part of the agreement MCHT received a conservation easement on 300 acres of nearby Passamaquoddy land at Moose Snare Cove.

Under terms of the agreement, MCHT receives a no-development conservation easement on 300 acres of nearby Passamaquoddy land with frontage on Moose Snare Cove (about two miles from the Picture Rocks site). The easement allows for forestry and continued agricultural use, such as blueberry production. The easement expands to more than 1,000 acres the protected lands in this ecologically sensitive area. MCHT facilitated the acquisition of the Picture Rock site on behalf of the tribe in order to complete the easement agreement on the Moose Snare Cove site. The transaction was made possible thanks to a cooperative private landowner.

“The Picture Rocks site is perhaps the most important petroglyph site in Maine. We had concerns that this land could one day go up for development, that we could lose the archaeological and cultural heritage of the petroglyphs,” said Mark Hedden, archeological consultant to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. Hedden, along with representatives from the tribe, the University of Maine at Machias, MCHT, and local community members have established a committee (named Malusah’ekan, which is Passamaquoddy for “Picture Rocks on the Shore) that is working to protect other petroglyph sites in the Machias Bay area. The committee hopes that the success of this project will be a catalyst for further protection of these historic sites.

Now that the tribe has control of the site, it plans to offer guided tours with tribal members interpreting the petroglyphs and explaining their history, but first developing a long range management plan.

About the Passamaquoddy Tribe

The Passamaquoddy Tribe has a long history in eastern Maine and western New Brunswick Canada, some say over 12,000 years. Machiasport is a very unique place, a place where the coast soothes the spirit and the land heals the soul. This petroglyph site is in an area of the largest concentration of rock carvings on the east coast. After 400 years, the rock carvings return back to the ancestors of the people who created them, what a strong story of endurance and survival. For more information, visit

About Maine Coast Heritage Trust

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is a statewide land conservation organization committed to protecting the character of Maine. Since 1970, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has permanently protected more than 121,000 acres in Maine, from the Isles of Shoals to Cobscook Bay, including more than 260 entire coastal islands. Working together with landowners, land trusts, and other community partners, Maine Coast Heritage Trust conserves and stewards coastal lands and islands for their renowned scenic beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, ecological diversity, and working landscapes. A membership and nonprofit organization, Maine Coast Heritage Trust counts on the ongoing support from members and people who love the coast of Maine.

Donald Soctomah, Passamaquoddy Tribe, 207-214-7727
Rich Knox, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, 207-729-7366