Our Basin of Relations Is Here and Now

our basin of relations book cover

It’s published at last! Support the labor of love and purchase a copy?

From the description at the listing on Amazon:”Water does not lie. Here in the Champlain Basin—a flowing landscape of mountains and rivers, forests and farms, towns and cities—it is the water that whispers difficult truths. From erosion, pollution, and habitat loss, to the toxic algae blooms that close Champlain’s beaches every summer, this once vital ecosystem is coming undone. And while there is no shortage of proposed technical and legislative solutions, it is clear that we also need distinct cultural responses to the problem—ways to see, hear, feel, and understand what the water is telling us. That is where this book comes in. Featuring the fine art photography of M.E. Sipe, the curating vision of Trevien Stanger, and over a dozen essays written by thinkers, academics, poets, farmers, and activists who call this region home, Our Basin of Relations presents new ways of thinking and old ways to remember, helping us chart a more honest path forward toward preservation and renewal. With open hearts, wild minds, and attentive bodies, these essayists deepen our insights and advance our sense of the possible for all of the beings, and for all of our relations, that constitute our home: this beautiful place, the Champlain Basin.”

My essay in contribution to this beautiful book is shared here.

Indigeneity: A Confluence of Relationship

kwenitekw-prospect-wantastegok-may-2016

This essay was published in Our Basin of Relations: The Art and Science of Living with Wateredited and illustrated by M. E. Sipe and Trevien Stanger. I was honored to be asked by Trevien to contribute a couple years ago, and this gorgeous and thoughtful book was happily published at last in August, 2020.

*****

Confluence signifies “a flowing together.” In a literal sense, it is about rivers. But it’s often used to talk about the coming together of ideas or cultures as well. Swirls, eddies, currents, cycles, transitions–– meeting, mixing, melting, morphing. The definition of liquidity. Everything changes, yet nothing changes. Heraclitus said that one can never step in the same river twice. Perhaps the message is not that we are unable to encounter consistently an entity in flux, but something far more subtle and profound: it is that some things maintain their identity only by changing.

A river is a river because it is flowing and shifting. Here constancy and change are not mutually exclusive but rather intimately connected in a dance. Rather than thinking in terms of opposites, we can embrace their balance. Once we find ourselves suspended in that place of harmony and equivalence, not focusing on differences, time slows and stops. Or perhaps time expands – into deep time, so deep that it is complete. Past, present, and future all coalesce and we are in the midst.

On seeing differently: The boundaries and labels we encounter on our modern-day maps are relatively recent political and historical constructs springing from the Western worldview. It can be difficult to view the land clearly with this tangled overlay of demarcations, polities, and hierarchies. If one can see beyond the arbitrary notions that this is Vermont, that is New York, and beyond is Quebec, for example, and begin to think in terms of watersheds, and in terms of thousands of years, then the true face of the country begins to appear.

This is the Dawnland: ndakinna, the home of the Abenaki, the W8banakiak–the land from before, a land that begins anew each day, a land that persists. The same water that flows here now has coursed down the river valleys for thousands of years, to the lakes and oceans and back again, in towering clouds with crashing thunder and twisting, silvery rivulets wending down the mountainsides to return to the welcoming valley below.

Among the northeastern Algonquian indigenous territorialities, the W8banakiak have been described as a riverine people. The various bands’ homelands are centered on watersheds – a river and its dependent streams, lakes, marshes, and floodplains.  Whereas other tribes might bound their lands in terms of primarily terrestrial landmarks such as mountains, deserts, or plateaus, denoting borders within which they circulated, the Abenaki centered themselves within the gathering waters, ranging out through a branching, interwoven net of connections. A family’s traditional hunting territories, above the agricultural plantings flourishing upon the floodplains and river terraces (the wolhanak), are bounded by these tributary sinews, stretching up into the hills and mountains to the next ridge top. Reflecting this, a member of a given Abenaki family band will describe their respective homeland as n’sibo, my river – whether the Winooski, Missisquoi, or Connecticut – allying with that flowing, veined world as a part of their own identity, in union, all the same. Intimately familiar with the landscape and its fellow dwellers – both animate and inanimate – an indigenous person is a continuous part of the spirits there, with roles to play and responsibilities to honor, and, in a word, inseparable.

An example emerges from Aln8ba8dwaw8gan, the Western Abenaki language, since language is one of the tools a culture uses to tell its story. It embodies a shared understanding of the world, and its nuances demonstrate a way of being in it. An Abenaki speaker, when queried as to their home, will answer (for example) with the phrase, “N’dai Winoskik,” meaning not merely that they live in Winooski, but rather, that they are that place, one and the same. It can be said that the Abenaki, in common with many other Native people, speak primarily in verbs; everything is seen in dynamic relation to everything else… who, how, where, with, and when.

Indigeneity does not simply denote a group of people. It is always in reference to the people of a place. The two are entwined. They define each other. they belong, in every sense of the word. It signifies a relationship so profound that it cannot be separated: the people are the land and the land is the people, a single entity. From this understanding, one can begin to sense the depth of the damage that is done to an indigenous people when they are separated from their homelands. This loss is irreparable, and the trauma becomes systemic, passed down through generations. To enforce this separation, as our nation’s history has so graphically inscribed, is to assault the meaning of life itself, leaving it broken and futile. Healing can be found only in a restoration of relationship, a re-balancing through reciprocity among the community of beings. The prefix “re-” occurs in all of these words, meaning “again,” and it speaks of cycles and constancy.

We are all familiar with the phrase “good medicine.” Medicine, in a Native sense, refers not simply to a decoction or compound intended to counter an ailment. Medicine is anything which promotes vitality, indeed, life itself: healthy food, drink, honorable conduct, respect, productive activity, ceremony, and rest – they all affirm the maintenance of a properly functioning relationship, both within and without. The Abenaki word for medicine is nebizon; at the root of it is the word nebi, which means water. Water is life. May we honor that, and each other, in this place.

The Wonders of Creation: the Great Fall at Walpole, 1807

Found on page 140:the great fall 1807 the wonders of creation

And again, on page 146:

bellows falls 1807 the wonders of creation

From “The Wonders of Creation; Natural and Artificial: Being an Account of the Most Remarkable Mountains, Rivers, Lakes, Cataracts, Mineral Springs, Miscellaneous Curiosities, and Antiquities in the World”
Compiled from Geographers, Historians, and Travellers of the Greatest Celebrity, in Two Volumes, by D. R. Preston, author of The Juvenile Instructor, &c. Pub. by John M. Dunham, Boston, 1807.

A historical plaque at Bellows Falls claims “Here first canal in United States was built in 1802”; more accurately, it may hold the title of “the oldest canal in the US still used industrially.” A British-owned company, the Bellows Falls Canal Company, was chartered to make the Connecticut River navigable in 1791. It spent 10 years building nine locks and a dam to bypass the 52 foot high Great Falls; the canal was completed in 1802. The first bridge across the Connecticut River anywhere on its course was constructed by Col. Enoch Hale in 1785, crossing exactly at this narrow, deep chasm, from Bellows Falls, VT to Walpole, NH.

The book quoted above was published in 1807, as a compilation by D. R. Preston of scenic descriptions by a number of well-traveled contributors. It is quite possible the above entries describing the Great Falls were written previous to the opening of the canal in 1802, which would have drastically impacted the water volume and dramatic impact of the cascade in the gorge.

Colrain: Apess Historical Marker Going Up Oct. 13, 2018

lopenzina apess shirt colrain

I want to sincerely thank everyone here who pitched in to the Apess campaign to place an historical marker up in Colrain, MA commemorating Colrain as the place of William Apess’ birth in 1798. The marker has been purchased with the funds we raised together and it is scheduled to go up on the front lawn of the Griswold Memorial Library on Saturday October 13th of this year. I’d like to make this an event, a ceremony, and a celebration of continued indigenous presence in the region–so please mark it on your calendars and, if you can, come join us on October 13th. It may also be your last chance to pick up one of these fashionable What Would Apess Do t-shirts. More info to come.

“when this tree of distinction shall be leveled to the earth, and the mantle of prejudice torn from every American heart–then shall peace pervade the union.” William Apess

Read the original post from Drew Lopenzina.

Christine DeLucia’s Memory Lands at GCC, with Nolumbeka Project

Christine Delucia GCC Nolumbeka

A brilliant exploration of the interweaving of past, present, and future, Memory Lands casts a fresh light on the maelstrom of violence known as King Philip’s War. “The landscape of New England will never look the same after reading this important and haunting book” – Karl Jacoby, author of Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History
Noted historian Christine DeLucia offers a major reconsideration of the violent seventeenth-century conflict in northeastern America known as “King Philip’s War,” providing an alternative to “Pilgrim-centric” narratives that have conventionally dominated the histories of colonial New England. DeLucia grounds her study of one of the most devastating conflicts between Native Americans and European settlers in early America in five specific places that were directly affected by the crisis, spanning the Northeast as well as the Atlantic World. She examines the war’s effects on the everyday lives and collective mentalities of the region’s diverse Native and Euro-American communities over the course of several centuries, focusing on persistent struggles over land and water, sovereignty, resistance, cultural memory, and intercultural interactions. An enlightening work that draws from oral traditions, archival traces, material and visual culture, archaeology, literature, and environmental studies, this study reassesses the nature and enduring legacies of a watershed historical event. This event is co-sponsored by Greenfield Community College, the Nolumbeka Project, and World Eye Bookshop.

          Christine M. DeLucia is assistant professor of history at Mount Holyoke College. She grew up in Amoskeag/Manchester, New Hampshire, and presently lives in South Hadley, Massachusetts, in the heart of the Kwinitekw/Connecticut River Valley.
“Having tromped through woods, swamps, and widely-flung archives, Christine DeLucia has produced a powerfully poetic study of the dynamic, frequently conflicting meanings of Indigenous and settler memoryscapes in New England.” —Jean M. O’Brien, author of Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England
“A remarkable ‘reopening’ of the history of New England. Christine DeLucia turns our attention to the ‘memoryscapes’ in our midst, demanding reconsideration of the markers, monuments, objects and placeworlds that memorialize King Philip’s War, alongside the processes that alternatively repress and recover Indigenous histories of survivance.” —Lisa Brooks, author of The Common Pot: the Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast and Our Beloved Kin.      
Copies of “Memory Lands” will be available at the event or call World Eye Bookshop (413-772-2186) to reserve.

Forbes Library: Native Americans and the Land

forbes library native american land authors

Tonight – March 21, 2018 from 7 -8:30 pm
Forbes Library, 20 West Street, Northampton, MA

-Lisa Brooks, author, “Our Beloved Kin”
-Cheryl Savageau, author, “Mother/Land”
-Jillian Hensley, author, “In This Strange Soil”

In “Native Americans and the Land,” three authors contemplate the first inhabitants of North America and their conceptions of living with the land. As we struggle to envision a healthier relationship with our natural world, looking through the lens of other cultural imaginations has never been more relevant. Recently, conflict over building the Dakota Access oil pipeline and the rise of the #NoDAPL movement have brought Native American perspectives to the forefront of environmental discourse. In nonfiction, poetry and fiction, these writers look through native eyes.

== Where the Real and the Surreal Meet ==
The Modern Real and Surreal: Writers and Artists on Our Age, is the Forbes Library’s author reading series. Now in its third season, the series explores contemporary themes on the premise that libraries offer vibrant spaces to engage with and explore our era’s most pressing questions – questions that in their surprises and contradictions can be understood through either a realistic lens or through fantasy, science fiction and the surreal. The series invites the community to join us in examining how story and art can provide empathy and insight in our accelerating world.

The series features writers in genres ranging from fiction to nonfiction to poetry. The role of the image in conveying literary themes will be explored, too, in events on comics & graphic novels, film and screenwriting, and nature word-and-image pairings. Current issues from our political and social milieu will also form an important backbone as these authors share from their fine work.

With Nolumbeka at GCC: Christine DeLucia’s Memory Lands

memory lands christine delucia nolumbeka poster

A powerful study of King Philip’s War and its enduring effects on histories, memories, and places in Native New England from 1675 to the present.

“A brilliant exploration of the interweaving of past, present, and future, Memory Lands casts a fresh light on the maelstrom of violence known as King Philip’s War. The landscape of New England will never look the same after reading this important and haunting book” – Karl Jacoby, author of Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History

Noted historian Christine DeLucia offers a major reconsideration of the violent seventeenth-century conflict in northeastern America known as “King Philip’s War,” providing an alternative to “Pilgrim-centric” narratives that have conventionally dominated the histories of colonial New England. DeLucia grounds her study of one of the most devastating conflicts between Native Americans and European settlers in early America in five specific places that were directly affected by the crisis, spanning the Northeast as well as the Atlantic World. She examines the war’s effects on the everyday lives and collective mentalities of the region’s diverse Native and Euro-American communities over the course of several centuries, focusing on persistent struggles over land and water, sovereignty, resistance, cultural memory, and intercultural interactions. An enlightening work that draws from oral traditions, archival traces, material and visual culture, archaeology, literature, and environmental studies, this study reassesses the nature and enduring legacies of a watershed historical event.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Christine M. DeLucia
is assistant professor of history at Mount Holyoke College. She grew up in Amoskeag/Manchester, New Hampshire, and presently lives in South Hadley, Massachusetts, in the heart of the Kwinitekw/Connecticut River Valley.

Praise for MEMORY LANDS:
“Having tromped through woods, swamps, and widely-flung archives, Christine DeLucia has produced a powerfully poetic study of the dynamic, frequently conflicting meanings of Indigenous and settler memoryscapes in New England.”
—Jean M. O’Brien, author of Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England
“A remarkable ‘reopening’ of the history of New England. Christine DeLucia turns our attention to the ‘memoryscapes’ in our midst, demanding reconsideration of the markers, monuments, objects and placeworlds that memorialize King Philip’s War, alongside the processes that alternatively repress and recover Indigenous histories of survivance.”
—Lisa Brooks, author of The Common Pot: the Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast

‘Our Beloved Kin’ and ‘Memory Lands’ Review: On the Trail of a Lost Northeast

Native Americans called the place Wôpanâak, or “the land where the sun is born every day.” The colonists called it New England, or “the English Israel which is seated in these goings down of the Sun.” Where the sun comes up or where it goes down, or as far east as a native person could conceive or as far west as a European could imagine, the large cosmic view or the small human perception: Perspective is everything in telling history, especially stories about war.

As Jill Lepore argued in “The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity” (1998), even the choice of what to call the conflict was fraught, and not just because it was imposed by the English winners. “King Philip” was a title the government of Plymouth colony bestowed, partly in derision, on the Wampanoag sachem Metacom (though he sometimes used it for himself). To personalize the conflict with a presumed leader’s name ignores the complex politics among often rivalrous Algonquian-speaking peoples, and makes the war a matter of a single man’s grievances rather than a result of political oppression and economic dispossession. King Philip becomes a literary type, the tragic vanishing Indian, the man who—like Tecumseh or Crazy Horse—epitomizes a savage (or is it noble?) way of life doomed to be replaced by a civilized (or is it savage?) European modernity.

This mythic view of Philip took shape in histories crafted after the war by clergymen such as Increase Mather and by military commanders (and land speculators) such as Benjamin Church. And it more subtly entrenched itself through the one book by a participant in King Philip’s War still read today, the captivity narrative of Mary Rowlandson, a Puritan clergyman’s wife whose account of her ordeals Mather shepherded to publication. Rowlandson’s work made the war a divine drama in which native people figure primarily as a test of a colonist’s religious perseverance, and hence of the perseverance needed for a settler society to replace Native Americans. Mythic Philip becomes a small contributor to a larger saga.

OUR BELOVED KIN

By Lisa Brooks

Yale, 431 pages, $35

MEMORY LANDS

By Christine M. DeLucia

Yale, 469 pages, $40

Two new books explore a very different view of the Anglo-Indian struggle. Lisa Brooks, a prominent scholar who teaches at Amherst College, offers “Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War.” Christine DeLucia, once Ms. Brooks’s student at Harvard and now an assistant professor at Mount Holyoke, gives us “Memory Lands: King Philip’s War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast.” Each book eschews grand narratives of European conquest and indigenous disappearance in favor of approaches that emphasize intimate scales and native points of view. Each deeply researched volume intensely focuses on specific localities—Ms. Brooks calls them “place-worlds,” Ms. DeLucia “memoryscapes”—that the author has personally walked and rewalked, contemplating what happened and continues to happen there.

These are not spots outsiders—or even insiders—will necessarily find resonant. “Never heard of King Philip’s war,” a Rhode Islander told a late-19th-century journalist searching for the sight of one battle, “guess you’re mistaken about a battle ever having been fought in this neighborhood.” As this exchange quoted by Ms. DeLucia reveals, keeping one’s distracted eyes open for larger meanings when an enthralled author delves into small details can be a tall order.

Read the full review by Daniel K. Richter in the Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Colin Calloway at Brooks: The Indian World of George Washington

Dartmouth College professor Colin Calloway discusses the first president’s relations with Indian peoples and considers how Native American nations and lands shaped the man who shaped the republic.

PRODUCTION DATE:
Wednesday, May 3, 2017 – 16:15
From Brattleboro Community TV.