Week 2 - Revisiting Key Concepts

During our second week, we will revisit and further explore the five themes. On Monday, July 24, we will explore grounded history in Mashpee, a Wampanoag community that received Federal Recognition in 2007. Our visit will begin in the Mashpee Wampanoag Museum. A member of the museum staff or other local guide, depending on availability, will spend the day with us, visiting places of historical and cultural relevance in Mashpee. By the time of this field trip, the Summer Scholars will already have met people from Mashpee and learned about Mashpee history, identity, land claims, language revitalization, and other issues. Thus the experience of learning “grounded history” in Mashpee will be deeper and richer than our first experience on Martha’s Vineyard on Day 1.

On Tuesday, July 25, we focus on gender identity, including the historical and ongoing impact of colonization on family and gender roles. In the morning, we will read an essay by co-director Nash that uses primary sources from seventeenth century Quebec to examine how Abenaki women responded to Christianity. Ann Marie Plane’s essay on Awashunckes, an important Wampanoag leader, shows how English laws reclassified and criminalized aspects of women’s experiences such as the stillbirth or early death of an infant, or anything other than heteronormative monogamy, as “infanticide” and “adultery.” This had a direct impact on women’s autonomy and leadership. In the afternoon, we turn to the 20th century and how women’s rights and LGBT rights percolated through Indian Country in ways that differed from mainstream experiences. Native American activists embrace the term “Two Spirit” as a way to discuss non-binary gender roles while acknowledging the diversity of custom, belief and practice in Indigenous communities. Guest presenter Harlan Pruden (Saddle Lake Cree Nation) will discuss contemporary Two Spirit identity and some of the issues facing youth in our schools. Pruden, a co-founder of the Northeast Two Spirit Society, is the Managing Editor of the Two Spirit Journal and a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

On Wednesday, July 26, we will focus on land in terms of treaties, laws, and environmental concerns. In the morning, jessie little doe baird will visit us a second time to discuss the history of Wampanoag land use and dispossession, and the recent decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior to designate 324 acres of land in Mashpee and Taunton, Massachusetts as reservation land, published in the Federal Register on 01/08/2016. In the afternoon, legal scholar Peter d’Errico, Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will provide an overview of Federal Indian law and give examples from his 50 years of practice, which includes work with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. The readings include d’Errico’s essay, “Native Americans in America: A Theoretical and Historical Overview,” and primary source documents related to the Mashpee land claim. Present-day land claims inevitably include environmental issues, as Indian lands have historically been contaminated or are on the verge of being contaminated by chemical waste, extractive industry, or harmful land use and development policies. We end the day by underscoring the close relationship among humans, other living creatures and the land, expressed in Native American stories and other cultural forms, and how modern science is “discovering” some things that Indigenous peoples have known for millennia. We will watch and discuss two short films by George Monbiot on “How Wolves Change Rivers” and “How Whales Change Climate” and all or part of an episode of NOVA, “Life’s Rocky Start,” in relation to what we have learned about Wampanoag lifeways and beliefs.

On Thursday, July 27, we revisit the concept of historical trauma by comparing local and national examples. In the morning, co-director Coombs will discuss the ongoing impact of colonization for Wampanoag peoples, with a particular focus on King Philip’s War as an example of historical trauma for the Wampanoag and other Indigenous peoples in New England. In the afternoon, we will discuss examples of historical trauma from other tribes, including the hardships of boarding school education that still resonate in many Native American families. Our guest presenter will be Amy Lonetree (Anishinaabe), Associate Professor of History at the University of California Santa Cruz, whose first book, Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native Americans in National and Tribal Museums (2012), examines how museums can (or do not) address historical unresolved grief experienced by Native American communities.

On Friday, July 28, the Summer Scholars will make brief presentations of what they are taking away from the Institute. This might include a specific lesson plan idea, information for their colleagues back home, or a personal reflection. We will conclude with a Talking Circle, where we collectively discuss what we learned during these two weeks, and thirty minutes set aside for final evaluations.