Firsting And Lasting: Writing Indians Out Of Existence In New England

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In this talk, Professor Jean M. O’Brien narrates the argument she makes in her book, Firsting and Lasting, that local histories written in the nineteenth century became a primary means by which Euro-Americans asserted their own modernity while denying it to Indian peoples. Erasing then memorializing Indian peoples also served a more pragmatic colonial goal: refuting Indian claims to land and rights. Drawing on more than six hundred local histories from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island as well as censuses, monuments, and accounts of historical pageants and commemorations, O’Brien explores how these narratives inculcated the myth of Indian extinction, a myth that has stubbornly remained in the American consciousness.

Indigenous Histories and Futures in Natick, Massachusetts

This event is the second in a three-part speaker series will allow attendees to consider important questions about Indigenous experiences in Natick and beyond from the seventeenth century until today. It is free and open to the public. Advanced registration is required. 

The Bridge Street Speaker Series is made possible by a grant from the Bridge Street Fund, a special initiative of Mass Humanities.