UMass Anthropology Speaker Series

umass anthropology speaker series

These events are all at UMass Amherst, Machmer Building.

Link to poster pdf here: anthr 370-670 sp 19 speaker series

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Through Which Runs a Vein of Quartz

quartz excerpt ethnological notes on moosehead lake

Drawn from Ethnological and Anthropological Notes on Moosehead Lake, by Joseph D. McGuire, 1908.

Marge Bruchac: Savage Kin – Indigenous Informants & American Anthropologists

In this provocative new book, Margaret M. Bruchac, an Indigenous anthropologist, turns the word savage on its head. Savage Kin explores the nature of the relationships between Indigenous informants such as Gladys Tantaquidgeon (Mohegan), Jesse Cornplanter (Seneca), and George Hunt (Tlingit), and early twentieth-century anthropological collectors such as Frank Speck, Arthur C. Parker, William N. Fenton, and Franz Boas.

This book reconceptualizes the intimate details of encounters with Native interlocutors who by turns inspired, facilitated, and resisted the anthropological enterprise. Like other texts focused on this era, Savage Kin features some of the elite white men credited with salvaging material that might otherwise have been lost. Unlike other texts, this book highlights the intellectual contributions and cultural strategies of unsung Indigenous informants without whom this research could never have taken place.

These bicultural partnerships transgressed social divides and blurred the roles of anthropologist/informant, relative/stranger, and collector/collected. Yet these stories were obscured by collecting practices that separated people from objects, objects from communities, and communities from stories. Bruchac’s decolonizing efforts include “reverse ethnography”—painstakingly tracking seemingly unidentifiable objects, misconstrued social relations, unpublished correspondence, and unattributed field notes—to recover this evidence. Those early encounters generated foundational knowledges that still affect Indigenous communities today.

This book also contains unexpected narratives of human and other-­than-human encounters—brilliant discoveries, lessons from ancestral spirits, prophetic warnings, powerful gifts, and personal tragedies—that Native and non-Native readers alike will find deeply moving.

Coming out in January 2018. Pre-order here! 

Sacred Ojibwa Bark Scrolls Returning After 70 Years

torn-birch-bark-terrace-view

In the 1930s, an American anthropologist named Irving Hallowell journeyed north to Canada to live among the Ojibwa and study their culture. He left with a wealth of knowledge – and something else. He took a bundle of sacred scrolls, made out of birch bark, and central to the performance of ancient religious ceremonies of the tribe.

The scrolls were never forgotten by those whose ancestors used them. Some elders in the tribe remember the old ways of doing things. Elder Donald Bird still uses the sweat lodge behind his house. There were other rituals, like the drum and the shaking tent, used to conjure the souls of the living and the dead.

Read this archived article from CBCNews.

*****

Traditional knowledge and its tangible representations has been scattered, banned, appropriated, diluted, sold, and destroyed, ever since coercive colonial forces have arrived in indigenous homelands. The principles and understandings of spirit signified by these materials persist, however, in the landscapes which generated them and in the heartss of the survivors who hold them. They are the same. They are still here. They can still be known by those who seek to restore the connection and the relationship. All is not lost… all is still here to be found.

From John Trudell’s “Crazy Horse”:

The Wild Age, the Glory Days live
Crazy Horse, We hear what you say
One Earth, One Mother
One does not sell the Earth the People walk upon
We are the Land…

A Story of Survival Amid the Artifacts

robert goodby norma wilson

Archeology provided the backdrop for a story of human survival during a presentation of “Digging into Native History in New Hampshire: Whatever happened to the Abenakis?” at Seabrook Library.

The New Hampshire Humanities Council co-sponsored the library’s presentation by anthropologist Dr. Robert Goodby, associate professor of anthropology at Franklin Pierce University and author of more than 100 reports delving into New England prehistoric archaeology.

Goodby began his presentation to several dozen audience members with an explanation of his passion for finding and studying artifacts. He said his interest in studying anthropology began at the University of New Hampshire but he became engrossed with archaeology when he found a 7,000-year-old object at his first paid archeological dig. He said the experience changed his life.

“Archaeology is about people,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘How can I use this object to find out about people and their stories.’”

Full story at Seacoast Online.