Mi’kmaq Manuscript Available At The Beinecke

mi'kmaq docThe Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is pleased to announce that they have acquired and digitized a rare 19th century Mi’kmaq (Micmac) liturgical manuscript. The prayers are written chiefly in hieroglyphic script, with a few lines including interlinear transliteration in Latin script. Full resolution JPEG images of this extraordinary document are available from Beinecke’s digital library. Images are openly and freely accessible.  To see them, click here.  A record for this manuscript can be found in Yale’s online library catalog, Orbis.  Click here to see the page.

The Beinecke is excited to offer this new resource for the study of Mi’kmaq language and culture.

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