WEEK 1

The first week addresses the period from before European contact through the 17th century.

Discussion topics for the week include:

  • Indigenous peoples of New England during the pre- and early contact period
  • Native space and the concept of homelands
  • History, pre-history and metholodogy
  • Native Christianity

The first day will begin with self-introductions by core faculty and NEH Summer Scholars.

Director Alice Nash will then give an overview of the content and format of the Institute and curricular projects coordinator, Kelley Brown, will explain the curricular projects that each Scholar will complete by the end of the three weeks.

To highlight the interconnection between “history” and the contemporary concerns of Native American communities in New England, we will watch We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân, an award-winning film about the Wampanoag (Wôpanâak) of southeastern Massachusetts who draw on seventeenth-century sources to learn their language today. This program, called the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, was founded and directed by MacArthur Foundation Fellow Jessie Little Doe Baird, whose language reclamation project we will visit later in the week.

Rae Gould will introduce the concepts of “homelands” and “native space,” that is, how Native Americans in the Northeast used, occupied, and understood their relationship to the land prior to the arrival of Europeans.

Thursday will be devoted to visiting Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum that re-creates a Wampanoag homesite and the nearby English village of Plimoth circa 1627.  After visiting the Pilgrim village, where we will observe and interact with historically trained re-enactors, and the Wampanoag homesite, which uses interpreters rather than re-enactors (for reasons that will be discussed), we will meet with museum staff to discuss the challenges of interpreting bi-cultural history for school groups and the general public. 

We will also visit the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project in Mashpee, MA, and hold discussions with Jessie Little Doe Baird, founder of the project and recently elected tribal Vice Chair.

We end the week with David Silverman, who will discuss native Christianity, considering both the impact of Protestant and Catholic missionaries and how Native peoples incorporated Christianity into their lives.  An afternoon primary document workshop focuses on the Abenakis of northern New England and their response to Catholicism in New France.