Yale Indian Papers Project Collaborates with Harvard on Mellon Funded Initiative

In collaboration with Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the Massachusetts Archives, the editors of the Yale Indian Papers Project are pleased to announce an award from the Mellon Foundation’s Council on Libraries and Information Resources (CLIR). Under the auspices of CLIR’s Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives Program approximately 4,500 manuscripts held at the Massachusetts State Archives will be imaged and made available to the public on two digital platforms, the Yale Indian Papers Project’s New England Indian Papers Series and Harvard Radcliffe’s Digital Archive of Native American Petitions Project.  These materials, the majority of them petitions, date from the 17th century through the mid-19th century and document the lives of many in the Indian communities of the colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

OPED mass indian petition

Signatures from a Petition of Natick and Punkapoag Indians to Massachusetts Governor John Leverett and Council Praying for the Return of an Indian Man Unjustly Imprisoned during King Philip’s War, 1676. Massachusetts Archives, Volume 30, document 229


 

In an effort to provide intellectual access to a subset of these documents, the editors and interns of the Yale Indian Papers Project along with Cheryll Holley, chief of the Hassanamisco band of the Nipmuc Nation, Cedric Woods, director of UMass’ Institute for New England Native American Studies, and scholars from the Mashpee and Aquinnah communities will select and transcribe documents that are particularly significant with respect to the history and culture of Massachusetts Native people, documents touching on important events within individual communities as well larger themes affecting Massachusetts and New England Native people as a whole.

The Eastern Pequot Journals of the Reverend Joseph Fish

Yale Indian Papers Project editors, in collaboration with the Connecticut Historical Society and with the assistance of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Archives Track Program, have completed the imaging and transcription of the Eastern Pequot Journals of Congregationalist minister Joseph Fish (1705-1781). Donated to the Connecticut Historical Society by the grandson of Joseph Fish, the journals span a nearly twenty years period from 1757-1776 and focus on Fish’s missionary work among the Eastern or Lantern Hill Pequot and Narragansett Indian communities. Although the Narragansett portion of the journals were transcribed and edited by William and Cheryl Simmons and published in the 1980s in a volume called Old Light and Separate Ways, the Eastern Pequot material has until now remained unpublished and relatively inaccessible, making its imaging, transcription and annotation a boon to scholars of the indigenous Northeast.Fish Journal blacklight result

Together with Fish’s correspondence and the writings of contemporaries such as the Ezra Stiles and Mohegans Sampson Occom and Joseph Johnson, these journals provide unique insight into the mid to late 18th century Eastern Pequot community.JF List

Replete with references to Mohegan, Pequot and Narragansett Separatist preachers, the names, ages, health and whereabouts of congregants, the construction of a tribal school house and sermons and lectures preached, Fish’s journals represent the earliest chronicle of an exclusively on- reservation Christian religious tradition among the Eastern Pequot. This religious community changed over time with the return of Brothertown émigrés in the early part of the 19th century and the cessation of funding from the Boston based commissioners of the Company for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the Parts Adjacent in America, one of the many missionary groups active in the Americas. Nonetheless a strong religious tradition persisted with the preaching and leadership of Calvin and Amanda Nedson Williams spanning the last part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th, to the more recent Fourth Sunday Meetings, a monthly Eastern Pequot religious gathering.

In light of the interest generated by recent publications such as David Silverman’s Red Brethren and Faith and Boundaries, Linford Fisher’s The Indian Great Awakening and Edward Andrews’ Native Apostles, visual and intellectual access to these primary source materials, rich with information regarding missionary efforts among native communities in southern New England, is timely.

To explore the journals of Joseph Fish click here.

Please Help Fund the Story of the Mashpee Nine

mashpee nine

A story of injustice, outrage, activism, and vindication that emboldened cultural pride and integrity for the Mashpee Wampanoag in 1976

During the summer of 1976 the revival of cultural and traditional values of the Mashpee Wampanoag was occurring at the same time tribal leaders and town government were clashing over land entitlement.  An incident involving an overzealous tactical police force disrupting a group of traditional drummers and singers evolved into a high profile trial of nine young men arrested, eight Wamanoag and one non-native friend.  Defended by one of the American Indian Movement’s most skilled and dogged attorneys, the Nine won in a rare case of a court ruling against law enforcement.  Court documents shredded, news accounts buried in microfilm, the case has faded into distant memory but not the stories of the surviving Nine and those who rallied to their defense.  What does survive is the tradition the Nine sacrificed their freedom for, even for a night, and fought vigorously to defend, the drum, the songs and the night.  This documentary will resurrect that legendary incident and preserve the memory of those who experienced it for the generation now sitting at the drum, and those to come.

Please join a Kickstarter campaign for the production of a documentary film to preserve this important piece of New England tribal history.

For more information, contact Paula Peters, SmokeSygnals, at paula@smokesygnals.com.  Image and text from Mashpee Nine: Let the Beat Go On! Kickstarter page

Classroom Presentation and Final Reflections

classroom pictureLast week I had the privilege of giving a presentation to a Haddam-Killingworth 6th grade class focusing on Native American culture and the importance of primary source projects such as the Yale Indian Papers Project. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I would like to thank the teacher, Ms. Monroe, and the rest of the H-K middle school faculty that helped out. The students and I had a fascinating discussion on how to approach Native American history as well as the importance of considering the challenges native peoples overcome today to keep their culture alive. I talked about some of the experiences I’ve had working with YIPP, what I’ve learned from my internship, and how it ties into my ultimate goal of one day teaching my own history classroom.

For part of the presentation the class split up into small groups and brainstormed what they’ve learned in school about Native American culture, and what they are interested to learn more. I was admittedly taken aback at the high level of consideration they put into their responses:

“How do Native Americans practice their culture today? Do they grow their own food and still hunt to survive?”

“Are tribe chiefs elected democratically? Has the process for choosing a leader changed over time?”

“What do Native Americans want to be called? Is it bad to say Indian?”

“How did Native Americans cook their food or take showers without technology?”

The students were attentive throughout the presentation and showed a real fascination with Native American culture. They also showed interest in the Yale Indian Papers Project and how they could use the YIPP database as they continued their education. Considering my focus at CCSU is secondary education I didn’t quite know what to expect from a 6th grade classroom, and I was pleasantly surprised. Their passion for learning was truly inspiring.

As the semester at CCSU is winding down and my internship is nearing completion I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Grant-Costa and the rest of the YIPP staff. The ability to hone my writing and editing skills was so beneficial to me its hard to find the right words to express my gratitude. Most of all, the new outlook on how to approach Native American culture is something I will take with me to my future classrooms. I hope to inspire my future students with the same passion that working for YIPP has given me. This has truly been an eye opening experience for me, and I hope that you, the reader, have enjoyed my posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Thank you all for a great semester.

— Kyle Armstrong

 

Lesson Plan for Teachers

As I have previously written, I am a history education major. Throughout my time with the Yale Indian Papers Project I have tried to constantly make connections to my future classrooms. I think it is important for teachers to find new and creative ways to approach native american history to create interest among their students. With this in mind I have created a lesson plan for a group activity that focuses on studying one local tribe per group. My goal is to help students begin to consider the unique experiences and culture of each tribe. This particular lesson was designed for an 11th grade social studies classroom, and I am using the Connecticut State Department of Education history standards. Anyone who wishes to use this lesson in their classroom may do so, and can make changes as needed. I only ask that if you do make significant changes to post your ideas in the comments so others can consider your changes for their classrooms as well.

Teacher: Kyle Armstrong

Grade Level: 11

Name of Lesson: Local Native American Culture

Content Standard(s):

HIST 9–12.3 Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.

HIST 9–12.9 Use questions generated about multiple historical sources to pursue further inquiry and investigate additional sources.

Student Learning Objective(s):

Students will consider the unique aspects of individual Native American Tribes. They will know the differences and similarities between tribes living in a specific geographic region. Students will understand that different tribes had their own culture and experiences, and that Native American history is complex.

Assessment:

Students will be assessed by working in small groups to study one individual tribe. They will present their findings via a power point presentation the rest of the class. Students will be graded on the content of their presentation including their use of the Yale Indian Papers Project database.

Materials and Resources:

This lesson will require at least 1 full day spent in the computer lab to allow students time to research their assignment and begin organizing their presentation.

Initiation:

The lesson will begin with 1 full day devoted to lecture and classroom study with a focus on the unique individualism of local Native American tribes. The goal is for students to begin approaching the culture and history in a new way. Rather then lumping the experiences together (which is inevitable when teaching Native American history as a survey approach) students will begin to consider each tribe as their own separate entity. By doing this students will begin to look to identify native peoples with their tribe rather then only group them together as “Native Americans.”

Lesson Development:

  • The Lesson will last 3 full days (1 day for introduction and group discussion, 1 day for time to work in groups, and 1 day to present findings to classmates)
  • The lesson will begin with a classroom discussion about the importance of considering each tribe’s individual history and culture.
  • Students will be placed in groups to complete the presentation portion of the assignment.
  • Each group will pick one local tribe to focus their efforts. They will research each tribe’s culture, history, and interactions with European settlers as well as the American Government.
  • At least one slide must make use of a primary source found in the Yale Indian Papers Project database, and comment on the importance of primary sources for studying Native American history.
  • Students will present their findings to the rest of the class, and lead discussions on the similarities and differences found in each group’s presentation.

Closure:

The lesson will end with a discussion on the similarities and differences the class has found in their presentations. Students will discuss how looking at each tribe is an effective way to understand native american identity as native peoples look to overcome the challenges of practicing their culture in the 21st century.