Readings & Assignments

 “I hope to completely revise the way I teach early American history by using the site as a way to look at pre-contact life, patterns of colonization and early New England life.”

NEH Summer Scholars will receive required readings, including the book “Captors and Captives”  prior to the workshop and will be asked to read them before arriving in Deerfield.



Topic: An Introduction to “Place” An early evening gathering at the summit of Mount Sugarloaf provides stunning, panoramic views of the broad agricultural landscape of the mid-Connecticut River Valley that people have called home for over 9,000 years.  In this landscape colonial peoples lived on the edge of empire.  We can imagine small English settlements nestled by the Connecticut River on ancestral Wôbanaki (Abenaki/Pocumtuck) homelands, attracted by what is to this day prized as some of the world’s most fertile soil. The view to the west encompasses much of the Pocumtuck homeland where generations planted, fished and gathered, and where they traded with European newcomers–Dutch, English, and French.

Readings: Teachers will read chapters 4-6 from William Cronon’s seminal work, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists and the Ecology of New England.  This interdisciplinary study illuminates how human agency by Native peoples and English settlers transformed the landscape.


Topic: Between Empires: Colonial New England An introduction to the multicultural social, political, and economic context that placed Deerfield at the crossroads of international conflict at the turn of the 18th century. Beginning with an over-view of the raid of 1704 and its tactical elements, Professor Evan Haefali will address the roots of the conflict that involved English, French, Kanienkehaka (Mohawk), Wendat (Huron), and Wôbanaki (including Pocumtuck) people, and how the raid was part of the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714) and an ongoing struggle for domination of North America by England and France. This centuries-old European rivalry helped to fuel parallel wars with the Wôbanaki and alliances with the French among northern Mohawks and Hurons.

Readings: Captors and Captives discusses Native, French, and English perspectives on the 1704 raid on Deerfield and places it in its social, political and economic colonial context. Scholar essays: “Explanations”, “English Colonization”, “A Brief History of Metacom’s War”, “English Puritanism”, “French Catholicism”, “French Colonization” and “European Land Use and the Transformation of the Northeast” from the Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704 website; and “Furnishing the Frontier” guide to the Flynt exhibit.


Topic: Alliance and Conflict: Colonial and Native Perspectives Professor Margaret Bruchac, a Wôbanaki and scholar, (University of Pennsylvania) will provide an overview of early Native history, including the important understanding that indigenous peoples were and are separate nations and cultures. Professor Bruchac’s lively discussion of Native American 18th c. culture and lifeways will help participants better understand perspectives of interaction among Native groups and Europeans. The discussion will include spiritual beliefs, economic and political world views, and gender roles and their impact on events, including those preceding the Deerfield raid and its aftermath.

Readings: Colin Calloway’s The Abenakis and the Anglo-French Borderlands discusses the wide range of relationships Abenakis maintained with both English and French people that often countered wider Anglo-French imperial tensions. Margaret Bruchac’s Earthshapers and Placemakers: Algonkian Indian Stories and the Landscape, an Excerpt from Indigenous Archaeologies: Decolonizing Theory and Practice by Claire Smith and H. Martin Wobst and Scholar Essays: (“Explanations”) from Raid on Deerfield: the Many Stories of 1704; “English Puritanism”; “Epidemics and Social Disorder”; “French Catholicism”; “French Colonization”; “Native Diaspora and New Communities”; “Native Land Use and Settlements in the Northeastern Woodlands”; “Schaghticoke and Points North: Wôbanaki Resistance and Persistence.”


Topic: “Traveling in contested territory”: Field Excursion Teachers, staff and the lead scholar will  travel by bus four miles to the Peskeompskut archaeological site which, for generations was a gathering place where Native people fished at a large falls on the Connecticut River. In 1676, during Metacom’s War, the Natives suffered devastation in a pre-dawn attack by the English militia from Deerfield on Peskeopmskut, with 300 elders, women, and children killed. This brutal attack was one of several that left a legacy of hostility among Native peoples, setting the stage for the Raid of 1704. Dr. Kevin McBride, Peskeomskut Site Archaeologist, assisted by the site’s project director, will provide an overview of the project – a collaboration of 6 Native nations, recently funded by the National Park Service.  Traversing the rugged landscape of the ancient encampment along a deep ravine on the trail believed to be the original Native pathway; Dr. McBride and site staff will share highlights of the site and what it reveals about the lives of Native people at this time.

We will then travel to The Fort at No. 4, a living history site at a recreated English fort in Charlestown, New Hampshire. Fort No. 4 was one of a line of forts constructed to defend English settlements from attack by the French and Native allies in the decades following the Raid on Deerfield. Wendalyn Baker, fort director, will share insights into the frontier experience for civilians living in a fortified community, as well as strategies for using historical sites to teach the colonial period.

The day also features an introduction to the discipline of historical archaeology. Drawing on his work in creating field experiences for educators and K-12 students, Dr. McBride will lead hands-on analysis of artifacts recovered from the Battle of Great Falls field survey. Such artifacts reveal the nature and extent of the 6-mile battlefield as well as English and Native tactics and weapons.

Readings: The introduction and chapters 6-8 of The Line of Forts: Historical Archaeology on the Colonial Frontier of Massachusetts, by Dr. Michael Coe, Chapter 1 of The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast by Lisa Brooks and Chapters on 17th Century from Two Essays: Chief and Greed, by Edmund Carpenter provide context for our field day explorations.


Topic: Slavery and Captivity in Early New England Professor Joanne Melish, (University of Kentucky Emerita) will explore categories of unfreedom in the complicated social landscape of early New England.  She will discuss early enslavement of Native people in New England as a consequence of 17th c. conflicts with European settlers; the emergence of the Atlantic slave trade and the arrival of enslaved Africans in New England; and resulting North American and global commercial relations and competitions.  The lives of Parthena and Frank, slaves known to be living in Deerfield in 1704, bring this topic to life.

Evening program: Teachers will gather in a historic tavern for an evening of period music, song, and dance. Teachers will learn the integral role of the tavern in colonial communities, through taste, touch, and fun and will examine period artwork, sing, and dance to live colonial music, and read the rules and regulations governing this important town institution.

Readings: “Slavery in a New England Town” essay in PVMA’s Guide of Deerfield African American Sites; Joanne Melish’s essay “Slavery and the Slave Trade in Colonial New England” and Frank and Parthena’s biographies and background information from the Raid on Deerfield: the Many Stories of 1704.


Topic: Captivity and Legacies Professor Ann M. Little (Colorado State University), author of The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright will share her research on Esther Wheelwright who was captured at the age of seven from her home in Wells, Maine in 1703. She was first adopted into an Abenaki family, then spent time with a wealthy Quebec family and eventually joined an order of Ursuline nuns and became their Mother Superior. Professor Little will also discuss the meaning and legacies of this event into the present day.

Readings: Ann M. Little’s, The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright. Captured from her home in Wells, Maine when she was a young child, Esther Wheelwright’s life experiences changed courses several times, from living with her Abenaki captors, to living with a wealthy French family, to joining the Ursuline order of nuns and becoming their Mother Superior. Little explores Wheelwright’s life through the eyes of the females around her. Margaret Bruchac’s “Revisiting Pocumtuck History in Deerfield: George Sheldon’s Vanishing Indian Act” offers evidence of the Pocumtuck people’s presence in 17th, 18th and 19th c. Deerfield and points to the historical erasures that have obscured our understanding of the indigenous history and how this legacy has persisited into the 21st century.