Dispatches from the Institute

July 8, 2013

The first day of our NEH Summer Institute began with breakfast pastries and registration forms as twenty-five Summer Scholars from the U.S. and American Samoa chatted with each other, anxious for the day to begin. The Scholars – K-12 educators, media specialists, and academic coordinators – were encouraged to attend an informal gathering with pizza on the previous night, but Monday was the first time they met in an academic setting.

After Co-directors Neal Salisbury and Alice Nash called the room to order, Scholars and staff members stood in a large circle and began introductions. As people spoke about their hometowns and teaching interests (History, Computer Science, Literature, and Psychology, to name a few), it became clear that this group of Summer Scholars is highly... read more

July 9, 2013

As our NEH Summer Institute will put a heavy emphasis on research as a part of personal learning and curriculum building, it is useful to think about how to study Native American History. During the three-week period Summer Scholars will spend immersed in “Native Americans of New England: A Historical Overview,” they will be introduced to many resources, methodologies, and Guest Presenters who can share their processes. This is not to determine one right or wrong way of conducting research, but to allow the Scholars to get a wide sampling and see what works best for them.

On Tuesday, July 9, Co-directors Alice Nash and Neal Salisbury discussed the kinds of stories archaeologists create based on the evidence they take into account. Because archaeologists are usually trained in... read more

July 10, 2013

On Wednesday, Guest Presenter Lisa Brooks (Abenaki) lectured about King Philip’s War and Mary Rowlandson’s classic captivity narrative, which describes Rowlandson’s journey as a captive after a 1675 Native raid on Lancaster, Massachusetts.

Brooks analyzed Rowlandson’s representations of the “vast and desolate wilderness,” in which Natives, including even her Nipmuc neighbors appear as foreign. Brooks also pointed out how gender influenced Rowlandson’s perspective. The Puritan author’s assumption that women’s roles did not extend to life outside the home is especially apparent in her portrayal of Weetamoo, her “mistress” in captivity and party leader.

Brooks pointed out that, despite Weetamoo’s power and authority in her matrilineal society, Rowlandson repeatedly applies... read more