WEEK 1 – INTRODUCING THE KEY CONCEPTS
The first concept is that Native American histories are grounded in specific places. On Monday, July 8, we begin with a place-based introduction to Mashpee, a Wampanoag community that received Federal Recognition in 20077. Our visit will begin at the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Offices, which includes a tribal court and language immersion classrooms along with other government infrastructure. Summer Scholars will have an opportunity to meet with government officials, language teachers, and community members, as available. We will visit the Mashpee Wampanoag Museum and other sites of historical and cultural significance on an air-conditioned bus, and end the day with a traditional lobster boil. A tribal elder who is knowledgeable about Mashpee history will be our local guide.
The second concept is identity. Identity is one of those words whose meaning varies in different contexts. On Tuesday, July 9, we will focus on representation, including stereotypes and the use of Native Americans as mascots, and in regard to questions about who is (or is not) an “Indian.” For the latter, we will discuss the differences between heritage, ancestry, self-identification, and tribal citizenship. We will read an essay by James Clifford about a 1970s trial in which the Mashpee Wampanoag were asked to prove their identity to a non-Native jury. In the afternoon, Curriculum Specialist Natalie Martinez (Pueblo of Laguna) will give a presentation about her experiences as a Summer Scholar in 2017 and how she has used what she learned. She will also discuss expectations and procedures for developing curricular projects by the end of the third week.
The third concept is land. On Wednesday, July 10, we will discuss Wampanoag creation stories (including excerpts from William Simmons’ collection, Spirit of the New England Tribes), subsistence patterns, and the economic and legal mechanisms by which English colonists claimed land. Guest presenter jessie little doe baird (Mashpee Wampanoag), linguist and Vice Chair of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, will discuss her work with Wôpanaak, for which she won a MacArthur genius award in 2010. Baird’s work makes it clear that language, land and identity are closely linked. In the afternoon, we will discuss Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative as a primary source for both Indigenous and English history. The guest presenter, Lisa Brooks (Abenaki), Professor of English and American Studies at Amherst College, is the author of Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip's War (2018).
The fourth concept is historical trauma. This is a relatively new concept in the field of Indigenous Studies, offering a critical perspective on the relationship between present-day social concerns such as addiction and high rates of suicide, especially among Native American youth, and History – both history-as-lived and what it means for Native Americans to have their histories erased or denied by mainstream society. Examples of denial and erasure include stereotypes, as discussed earlier in the week, and in the lack of positive representation in children’s books, as will be discussed below. We will read an essay by Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, the mental health expert whose work on historical trauma among her own people, the Lakota, provides a framework for examining historical trauma among other groups.
Historical trauma will be on our minds on Thursday, July 11, as we visit Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum that includes a Pilgrim village and a Wampanoag homesite. In the three years prior to the landing of the Mayflower in 1620, epidemic diseases brought by Europeans wiped out 60 to 90% of the local Wampanoag population. This context is critical for understanding Wampanoag responses to the Pilgrims. The Scholars will have time to explore on their own in addition to guided activities. They will gain a unique perspective on the history of the museum because Institute co-director Linda Coombs worked there for over thirty years and played a key role in the development of the Wampanoag Indian Program. While at the museum, we will meet in a seminar room to discuss strategies for teaching about Thanksgiving as well as current planning for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620. By this time, the Scholars will understand that the search for a “more accurate” version of the “first Thanksgiving” may not be the most useful question. Instead, we might ask, who gets to tell the story? What kinds of sources are used, or not? Whose voices are included and what exactly does that mean? How are Native American students affected when their history classes say little or nothing about the ongoing impact of colonization on Native American communities?
The fifth concept is that (re)evaluating classroom resources is a skill that can be learned. Friday, July 12, begins with a general discussion of how to evaluate classroom materials, including children’s books, folk tales, popular books such as Caleb’s Crossing or Little House on the Prairie, films, and scholarly literature. We will then break into groups to identify sources that the Scholars can use in their curricular projects, organized by grade level or topic as determined by the group.