INDIAN TOWNSHIP, Maine -&nbspCapt. Tomah Lewey left such an important mark on Washington County’ s landscape that on Thursday a portion of U.S. Route 1 was dedicated to the former surveyor, boat captain and farmer.

The dedication of the Capt. Tomah Lewey Memorial Highway was the work of tribal state Rep. Donald Soctomah. Last year, Soctomah introduced legislation to name that portion of U.S. Route 1 from the Princeton-Indian Township bridge to Topsfield.

Soctomah said Thursday that he had support from the towns of Waite and Talmadge to do so. This is the first major highway in the state to be named after a Passamaquoddy, Soctomah said.

Tribal members, including some of Lewey’ s descendants, met near a big Department of Transportation highway sign that designates that portion of the road as the Capt. Tomah Lewey Memorial Highway. The sign is between the tribal offices and Lewey Lake, which also was named after the tribal member.

A ribbon was stretched across the highway and, for a time, the road was blocked. Former tribal Gov. John Stevens, who is an ancestor of Lewey’ s, and Indian Township tribal Chief Billy Nicholas cut the ribbon to open the highway.

Tribal member Brenda Lozada began the dedication with a smudging ceremony. Tribal member Blanche Sockabasin and tribal Councilor Wayne Newell sang the honor song. Tribal elder Joanna Dana offered a prayer to the four directions.

Then it was time to honor Lewey with words.

Nicholas said Lewey was one of the most notable Indian Township residents.

“In the late 1700s, Tomah Lewey lived in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, but was forced to leave his home because of the influx of Loyalists near the tribal village,” Nicholas said. “Capt. Tomah Lewey and his wife and children canoed up to a small island near Lewey Lake. He was the first permanent resident in the northern part of Washington County.” That location was known as Lewey’ s Island.

During his life, Lewey distinguished himself. “During the war of 1812, he helped locate U.S. soldiers who were lost in the Maine woods,” Nicholas said. “He also became the first riverboat captain.” The boat hauled logs to the nearby mill.

During the early 1800s, he helped whites and Indians settle in the area. Eventually his island was flooded from a sawmill dam and he had to relocate his family to the current site of the Indian Township tribal office, “where he created one of the most successful farms in Washington County,” the tribal chief said.

As the area became more populated, it was Lewey who surveyed the stage coach route now known as Route 1.

Tribal officials recently found Lewey’ s grave behind the tribal offices.

Former Gov. Stevens urged everyone who attended the dedication to continue the tradition of honoring the achievements of the Passamaquoddy. “That is how we create our history and our history books,” he said.

Councilor Newell called Lewey an ambassador. “Capt. Lewey was a leader. He understood the importance of communicating with his tribal members as well as the larger community,” he said.

Newell also recalled with a smile another time that the Passamaquoddy had blocked the highway. It happened several years ago, during a dispute between the tribe and the state.

“The state had cut off milk and food allotments for the tribe,” he said. “So the tribe decided ‘ well, we have to raise money to replace the money lost.’ So we blocked the highway and set up a tollbooth and collected money to go [past] the reservation.”

It was more of a symbolic blockade because within an hour the state capitulated, Newell said, and restored the allocations. “It was a very peaceful protest,” he added.