“This is perhaps the most impressive seminar I have ever attended. The passion of those in charge together with their expertise, tact, people skills and organization and planning that went towards the whole academic experience was wonderful. Field trips happened at perfect intervals, readings were appropriate and meaningful, presenters were top notch.”
Architectural and object-driven explorations at the museums of Deerfield and the region will demonstrate ways in which material culture can illuminate the study of colonial history. Walking tours and field excursions throughout the week will assist NEH Summer Scholars in understanding the geographical setting for the events and themes that they are exploring.
Small group sessions will include primary-source-based investigations, first person narratives from a variety of perspectives and artifact analysis. An examination of English and Native lifeways will include: fireplace cooking with period tools and foods; the daily experiences of the men, women, and children living in Deerfield in the early 18th c.; and period lifeways of Wôbanaki, Huron, and Mohawk peoples including the context of captive experience.
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. At this place 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.
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 Kevin Sweeney (Amherst College) will address the roots of the conflict that involved English, French, Kanienkehaka (Mohawk), Wendat (Huron), and Wôbanaki (including Pocumtuck) people and will explain how the raid was part of an ongoing struggle for domination of North America between 1675 and 1748. This centuries-old European rivalry helped to fuel parallel wars with the Wôbanaki and alliances with the French among northern Mohawks and Hurons.
Early Native History and Peoples Professor Marge Bruchac (Abenaki) (University of Pennsylvania) will provide an overview of early Wobanaki history, emphasizing cultural practices, territorial relationships, and political alliances that marked the Indigenous peoples of the Northeast as separate but related nations and cultures. Discussion of 17th century Indigenous lifeways in the Connecticut River Valley will help participants better understand local Native perspectives that shaped their interactions with Europeans, including Metacom’s War. This session will provide teachers with insights that will be useful in constructing more accurate and nuanced understandings, as alternatives to inaccurate stereotypes of Indians. Discussion will include Wobanaki perspectives on oral traditions, sustainable lifeways, territorial conflicts, family and kinship, and shifts in regional survival strategies in the decades before and after 1704.
Evening Program: Voices from the Past: First Person Narratives of Deerfield Captives Participants will enjoy a group dinner followed by first person narratives of three Deerfield residents taken captive in the 1704 raid. Discussion following the narratives will include the research process and sources that inform the creation of these living history programs, and the challenges and opportunities of first person presentations in the classroom for developing historical thinking skills.
“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 Native 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 Native 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 restored 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, director of Fort No.4, 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, archeologist Aaron Miller will lead hands-on analysis of artifacts from a nearby Fort in tandem with documentary evidence. Such artifacts reveal settlers responses to the perceived French and Native threat as they strove to maintain their “Englishness” while struggling to survive on the frontier.
Slavery and Captivity in Early New England Professor Joanne Melish, (University of Kentucky) 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 for a tavern meal of colonial foods, period music, song, and dance. Teachers will learn the integral role of the tavern in colonial communities, through taste, touch, and fun. They will examine period artwork, sing, and dance to live colonial music, and read the rules and regulations governing this important town institution.
Captivity and Legacies Professor John Demos (Yale University) will share his research into the experience of one of the most famous captive stories of the Deerfield Raid. His popular book, The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America was the first sustained scholarly effort to trace and interpret the captivity of Eunice Williams (1696-1785), the daughter of Deerfield’s minister, and its impact, not only on Eunice and her two families (Mohawk and English) but also the meaning and legacies of this event into the present day. Following Professor Demos, Professor Margaret Bruchac will return to share Native perspectives on themes of captivity and bridging of cultures in the 18th c. and beyond. Eunice and her Native husband made several visits to her English brother, also a former captive, and her 19th century descendants visited their “Deerfield cousins”. These visits were remembered as family history and were shared by Elizabeth Sadoques, a descendant of Eunice, with the PVMA in 1922. Contact between the families and communities has continued to the present day.