In 1930, as the effects of the depression began to be felt, Penobscots Leo and Florence Shay of Indian Island at Old Town set up a tent on a vacant lot at Lincolnville Beach with their three young sons. With jobs getting scarcer there was one thing the family could do to earn money and that was make baskets. Growing in the marsh behind the row of shops at the Beach they found a large stand of sweetgrass, the plant used in Penobscot baskets. For most of the next 30 years the Shays returned every year to set up their Indian Camp basket tent.

In the photo Florence is working on a basket in the entrance to their sales tent; the family lived in the rear tent. The Lincolnville Post Office occupies the site today.

Florence Nicolar Shay was an outspoken advocate for Penobscot tribal rights, testifying on tribal issues before the state legislature and in 1942 publishing her History of the Penobscot Tribe of Indians.

Contributed by: Diane O’Brien, Lincolnville Historical Society