Week 3 2013

The third week connected present-day issues to the historical contexts this Institute addresses.

Discussion topics for the week included:

  • The emergence of pan-Indian organizations and activism at the federal and New England regional levels as responses to the continuing assimilationist policies of the late nineteenth century
  • Federal efforts to terminate recognition of tribes after World War II and the subsequent shift, responding in part to militant Native activism, toward promoting tribal “self-determination."
  • Federal recognition
  • Repatriation
  • Language revitalization.

Margaret Bruchac discussed her current research on relations between Native Americans and anthropologists in the twentieth century, especially between Frank Speck (1881-1950) and Mohegan anthropologist Gladys Tantaquidgeon (1899-2005).

Kathleen Brown-Pérez, Esq. narrated a brief history of her tribe (Brothertown), from its origins in New England to its present-day location in Wisconsin, and talked about her experience as the tribe’s legal counsel during its unsuccessful bid for Federal Acknowledgement.

Rae Gould explained the importance of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), a Federal law passed in 1990, and considerations that make it difficult to implement.

Together, these presentations emphasized the complex legal terrain that indigenous peoples must constantly navigate and the ways in which historical (mis)understandings affect their lives every day.

The final Institute speaker was Jessie Little Doe Baird, Director of the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, whose work we learned about on the first day of Week 1. Baird talked about the importance of language and history in her community of Mashpee, and offered examples of what she has learned about her ancestors from their writings.

The NEH Summer Institute concluded with a talking circle where NEH Summer Scholars summarized their curricular projects and discussed what they learned over the preceding three weeks.