Bounty film documents attempt at Native genocide in Maine

The Phips Proclamation was one of 72 government-issued scalp bounties across New England from 1675 to 1760. At least 50 scalp bounties were issued elsewhere in the United States until 1885. The proclamations targeted specific tribes by name, occasionally marking specific tribes safe, because they were “allies” to the authorities. Our research has found government payments for over a hundred human scalps submitted in 94 separate claims in New England alone – each one a soul, a child, a loved one, a future healer and community leader. We have uncovered documents showing millions of dollars (in today’s money) paid out by the government. We are using the film and related learning materials to teach about the systemic nature of scalp bounty proclamations and the inextricable relationship between taking scalps and taking land. Click here for the trailer of the film and here for a 8-minute video of how it was made.

(Above) A virtual screening of the 9-minute video was offered on January 20, 2022 by the Upstander Project. “This abhorrent proclamation, made in 1755 by the colonial government, paid settlers handsomely to murder Penobscot people. It declared our people enemies and offered different prices for the scalps of children, women, and men. Bounty proclamations like this, some even paid in stolen land, persisted for more than two centuries across what is now the United States.”

This nine-minute video was filmed at Faneuil Hall in Boston, where the proclamation was issued in 1755.

“We are citizens of the Penobscot Nation. For this film, we bring our families to Boston to read our ancestors’ death warrant. In BOUNTY we step into the future together with our children into the colonizer’s hall of injustice, to read their hateful words and tell the truth about what was done to our ancestors. We exercise our power by sharing the horrors of this hard history as an act of resistance, remembrance, and a step toward justice. Ultimately the message of this project is best summated by the Penobscot co-directors of the film who proclaim: We are survivors. We are still here.