Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Recap: Native American Heritage Month Speaker Series at Strawbery Banke Museum

November is National Native American Heritage Month, and to celebrate, the Archaeology Department and the Marketing & Communications Department organized an exciting speaker series.  Thank you to all of our wonderful speakers throughout the month, and thank you to everyone who attended one or all of our events!  For those of you who missed it, here is a quick recap, and for everyone, some further reading and watching.

Our first speaker was Annawon Weeden, a Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal member who currently works as an educator with the Mashantucket Pequot Nation.  Annawon took us on a ride through the last five centuries, role playing different indigenous people of New England, including Squanto and Metacom (aka King Phillip) before ending his presentation as his own 2014 self.  If you missed Annawon here at Strawbery Banke, you can see him playing Metacom in the PBS program, "We Shall Remain."  Annawon got a few questions about Federal Recognition, Tribal enrollment, and working on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Reservation, so if you are looking for more information on those topics, you may enjoy this book: Forgotten Tribes: Unrecognized Indians and the Federal Acknowledgement Process.

Our next speaker was Dana Benner, an educator of Micmac/Penobscot/Piqwacket descent.  Dana spoke to us about pre-contact traditions and lifestyle of the Indigenous people of the Seacoast area.  Dana mixed personal anecdotes with traditional oral histories.  He focused especially on hunting and fishing techniques and brought some interesting artifacts with him.  If you enjoyed Dana's lecture, you might like this great book by his mentor, Frederick Wiseman: The Voice of the Dawn: An Autohistory of the Abenaki Nation.

Our third speaker was Charles Doleac from the 1713-1714 Treaty of Portsmouth Tricentennial Committee.  Chuck spoke about the political climate in the Seacoast area of the early 18th century and how the decisions made then affect diplomacy even today.  He recommended Colin Calloway's recent book, Pen and Ink Witchcraft: Treaties and Treaty Making in American Indian History.  If you enjoyed Chuck's lecture, you may also enjoy the excellent book, Uneven Ground: American Indian Sovereignty and Federal Law, which explores the relationship between the federal government and Native American Nations.

Paul Pouliot, Sag8mo of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki and Chief & President of COWASS North America, Inc., was our next speaker.  He and Denise Pouliot put together an extensively researched presentation for us about Abenaki foodways.  Paul explored plant, animal, and marine resources that have been used by Indigenous people of New England.  Paul also taught us many Abenaki words for foods and showed us various artifacts related to hunting, fishing, and cooking technologies over time. Paul and Denise also brought us two traditional dishes to sample: corn chowder and maple baked beans!  Paul mentioned that the book Notes on a Lost Flute: A Field Guide to the Wabanaki by Kerry Hardy included research on some of the topics Paul discussed.

Our final event was a screening of the film We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân, directed by Anne Makepeace.  Unfortunately, Anne, who was planning to join us for a Q&A after the film, was not able to make it, but the show went on without her.  The movie, which premiered on PBS in 2011, documents the revitalization of the Wampanoag language and the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project, directed by Wampanoag Tribal member, MIT grad, & MacArthur genius Jessie Little Doe Baird.  We had a brief discussion after the film, but if you are interested in learning more about language and literacy in historic New England, you may enjoy these books: The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast (also available at the Strawbery Banke Visitors' Center) by Lisa Brooks or Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England by Jean O'Brien, who appeared in the film!

Thanks again to everyone for making the series a success, and to the Roger R. and Theresa A. Thompson Endowment Fund for the grant that made the events possible.