A Zoom Presentation by Dr. Jean M. O’Brien
Hosted by Historic Northampton and Sponsored by On Native Land: Leverett Advocacy & Education Group
Wednesday, September 14, 2022 at 7 pm
|Professor Jean O’Brien (White Earth Ojibwe) will discuss how local historians in New England, writing between 1820 and 1880, promoted the myth of Indian extinction, if they wrote about the Indigenous population at all.|
Local historians erased Indians from the record by focusing on “firsting,” which refers to the practice of listing the firsts of the proud English (e.g. first born, first settlement) and then “lasting,” in which local histories told of the tragic disappearance of the last members of the Indian population, who had not disappeared at all. Dr. O’Brien will describe how these patterns were perpetuated and how they inform our present day.
During the discussion, presenters will read from the historical record (found in the Leverett Library and in Amherst’s Jones Library Special Collections), which demonstrates how western Massachusetts “firsted” and “lasted” its Indigenous people and often “replaced” them with monuments.
In addition to Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), Dr. O”Brien is the author of Dispossession by Degrees: Indian Land and Identity in Natick, Massachusetts, 1650-1790 (Cambridge: 1997) and Monumental Mobility: The Memory Work of Massasoit (with Lisa Blee) and Why You Can’t Teach U.S. History without Indians (University of North Carolina Press, 2015). Dr. O’Brien holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago.