Native Americans of New England: A Historical Overview was a three-week NEH Summer Institute for Teachers offered under the auspices of the Five Colleges Consortium. The 2015 Institute took place July 6-24, 2015, at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Native Americans of New England examined the history of Native American peoples in New England from before the onset of European colonization through the present day, showing how the past and the present are linked. A rigorous, interdisciplinary humanities program included primary source analysis, museum visits, and conversations with Native and non-Native guest presenters. Concepts such as culture, identity, citizenship, and sovereignty took on new meanings when we examined the struggles and achievements of indigenous peoples.
This subject is timely because a wealth of exciting scholarship has emerged in recent years but these new understandings have not been widely incorporated into K-12 or even post-secondary teaching. The Institute was particularly suited for History and Social Studies teachers because questions about sources and interpretation were integrated throughout and approached from several directions. Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History teachers have been especially interested due to that curriculum's increased emphasis on Native history including the pre-Columbian era.
Our focus on New England communities offered teachers an opportunity to examine historical processes in one region over time, while also looking at those processes more broadly in North America.