This research was conducted by Seaward Glen Starbird, Jr., who was employed by the Penobscot Nation from the late 1970s until his death in 1995 as the Rights Protection Researcher. A tireless researcher, S. Glen Starbird compiled information about the early history of the tribe, particularly the history of Penobscot Chiefs and Penobscot Representatives.
Information about the Chiefs is presented on this website in two sections. First is a section about 'Documented' Chiefs'. The Penobscot had many generations of Chiefs prior to the first documented Chief, Bashabez. That's why the Penobscot Nation is known for its strong leadership and as one of the oldest continuously operating governments in the world. These early leaders were known as Sagamas in the Penobscot language. Later, they were referred to as Governors and Lt. Governors. Today they are known as Chief and Sub-Chiefs. The terms Governor and Chief are synonymous and have been used intermittently throughout recent history.
The second section is called Chief Line - Modern Era. This list begins with the most recent Chief and extends back to the 1860s. Eventually, two different parties formed within the Penobscot community, reflecting differing political views. When the Old Party/New Party system was offficially put into place, the New Party wanted to elect new leadership, and the Old Party wanted to inaugurate from the hereditary line, as was the ancient custom. The Old Party chose their first Chief in this traditional manner, but then went to an elective system with members of both parties agreeing that one party elect a Chief/Governor for one year and the other party elect the Chief the next year. Records reflect this alternating elective system.
To read about more Chiefs, please visit the Chief Line - Modern Era, which starts with the most recent Chief, Kirk Francis, and documents all chief/governors back to Joseph Attean and Tomer Sockalexis.