Week 2 2015

The second week focused on the late seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, examining choices Indigenous peoples in New England made during a period when they seem to vanish from most history books.

Discussion topics for the week included:

  • >Land, sovereignty, and race; the changing landscape of work and subsistence strategies
  • King Philip’s War (1675-76) and its aftermath
  • The Anglo-French rivalry that erupted into war in 1689, with a focus on the 1704 raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts
  • Anthropologists and informants

Lisa Brooks led a discussion centered on Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. She drew on Rowlandson’s narrative to examine the social and geographic networks of Native people Rowlandson encountered, particularly Weetamoo, a female sachem, and James Printer, a Christian Nipmuc whose story is intertwined with Rowlandson’s narrative.

That same afternoon, director Nash led a workshop on using a Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704, an award-winning website developed by the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association in Deerfield, Massachusetts through a collaborative process with historical institutions in Kahnawake (Mohawk), Odanak (Abenaki), Wendake (Huron-Wendat) and Montreal and Quebec City (Quebecois).

Margaret Bruchac (Abenaki) discussed her research on relations between Native Americans and anthropologists in the 20th century, especially between Frank Speck (1881-1950) and Mohegan anthropologist Gladys Tantaquidgeon (1899-2005).

Mid-week, we visited the summit of Mt. Holyoke at Skinner State Park in South Hadley, a local landmark about fifteen minutes’ drive from UMass. On a clear day, Mt. Holyoke offers a breathtaking view of the middle Connecticut River Valley that grounded our discussion of homelands and Native space, including specific strategies through which Native American tribes lost legal title to their homelands.

On Thursday, at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (MPMRC) in Mashantucket, Connecticut, NEH Summer Scholars toured the museum exhibits, which move in chronological sequence from the Ice Age to the present. Jason Mancini, senior researcher at the Center, also shared his research on Indian mariners and urban Indian communities, raising thoughtful questions about labor, race and ethnicity in the nineteenth century. The museum raises vital questions of interpretation, representation, and the “ownership” of history. 

Ron Welburn discussed the complexities of race and ethnicity in New England, including the history of powwow culture and the recent re-connection between the descendants of Native Americans sold into slavery in the West Indies after King Philip’s War and their relatives in southern New England.