History Professor Joe Hall of Bates College will offer a free presentation at the old Biddeford Meetinghouse at 7 p.m. Aug. 24, ‘How the Saco River Got its Name: Wabanaki Place Names in Context.’  The event is sponsored by the Biddeford Historical Society. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — Two events highlighting provincial life in Maine in the 17th century are coming up later this month in Biddeford.

At 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24 at the old Meetinghouse in Biddeford, Bates College Professor Joe Hall will be the guest of the Biddeford Historical Society and the  Biddeford Pool Historical Society and he will offer a presentation called “How the Saco River Got its Name: Wabanaki Place Names in Context.”

Hall teaches colonial history, American Indian history, and environmental history at Bates College. He is currently researching the history of Wabanakis, Maine’s indigenous peoples.

According to Catherine Glynn of the Biddeford Historical Society, many people know that quite a few place names in Maine, like “Saco” come from the Wabanakis.

She said that a few more might know what some of these words mean, such as that “Saco” means “a river outlet.”

“But what did it mean for Wabanakis to use these words and not others in their conversations with English colonists?” Glynn said. “In exploring this question. we can see how Wabanaki place names tell us not only something about English-Wabanaki relations in the 1600s, but also how Wabanakis continue to have a presence in Maine in the centuries since.”

Glynn said that Hall is currently researching the history of Wabanakis, Maine’s indigenous people, and is particularly interested in the ways that Wabanakis continued to cultivate ties to their homeland even as colonial peoples sought to dispossess them of it.

“In his lecture he will be speaking about the ways that Wabanaki place names offer some clues not only to how Wabanakis inhabited their homelands before colonists’ arrival, but also how they continued to inhabit those lands in the midst of colonization,” she said.

Hall’s presentation is free, but donations will be accepted to aid future historical society programs.

In addition, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday, Aug. 25 and Sunday, Aug. 26, Harmon’s Snowshoemen  of New England present free reenactments of the Benjamin Church Brigade at 21 Bayview Ave. in Biddeford Pool .

The public is invited to learn about what European colonial regiments wore from the time period of 1660 to 173, what equipment they used, and to enjoy a live demonstration of early cooking methods in the area.

Harmon’s Snowshoemen of New England conduct research and present historical period reenactments throughout New England.

For more information about either upcoming presentation, call 286-4928.

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 ext. 326 or by email at [email protected]


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