From the Fragments: Places and People in Colonized New England
Week at a Glance
The Institute is built around a series of place-based encounters with global colonialism in the Great Bay Estuary. The week will include site visits, guest expert lectures, hands-on work with cultural heritage materials, processing time, and innovative curriculum development. Because our program grows out of an archaeological research program, everyone will have a Field Notebook, the same as used during excavations, to document the week's encounters.
Meet English colonists who came to Great Bay Estuary, a frontier landscape on the edge of Puritan Boston's control during the 17th century. Many came for economic reasons, while some came for religious refuge from strident Puritan Boston. Great Bay's colonists were disdained by Puritans as “disorderly.” The day will start with a framing lecture on lived English colonial experiences by Dr. Howey. You will visit the UNH Archaeology Lab to see early colonial artifacts, many of which testify to “disorderly” elements like tankards and other illegal wares of the time. You will travel to the site of the1654 First Parish meeting house in Dover, NH. During the colonial era, meeting houses were both civic and religious centers. The fragments left here tell us English colonists living locally made their own decisions, especially about attending church and how they related to the area’s Indigenous peoples.
Meet Indigenous Peoples whose presence in their own homelands has been simplified and/or outright erased in dominant narratives of early colonialism. In P8bagok (pronounced P-ohn-ba-gock) as they knew Great Bay Estuary, Abenaki peoples were powerful. Violence is a major theme in colonial narratives, but archaeology shows a deep history of peaceful interactions. The day will start with a framing lecture from leading Abenaki historian and scholar Dr. Lisa Brooks. Next, you will take a re-Indigenizing tour of Great Bay Estuary led by the head speakers of the Cowasuck Band of Pennacook Abenaki People, Paul and Denise Pouliot, who will re-inscribe this landscape with Indigenous meaning and show how Indigenous peoples remain vibrantly present today. We will also hold an optional workshop for those who would like help researching a land recognition for where they live and teach.
Meet Scottish Indentured Servants captured in England and sent to New England to labor in the early colonial lumber industry, powered by dams, which caused destruction to forests and rivers. The day’s framing lecture by Dr. Howey will explore the lives of Indentured Scots but also how their forced labor indexes a much larger reality of English colonial environmental impacts that reverberate today. You will visit the first mill dam on the Oyster River, built by Indentured Scots in 1649, and learn how the town recently voted to remove this contentious dam. Next you will head to UNH Thompson Farm where Earth Scientist Dr. Michael Palace will demonstrate how drones are being used to study the impacts of colonial lumbering. You will see how cutting-edge technologies, natural sciences, and the humanities can work together to bring forward new insights about the past.
Meet Enslaved Africans, who, while many do not associate chattel slavery with New England, were here. As English colonists gained wealth through various extractive enterprises, some became wealthy enough to enslave Africans in forced household and economic labor activities, which further fueled their wealth and success. Indigenous land dispossession, property, trade, capitalism, commodification, and enslaved labor all intertwine in this colonial moment. This day’s framing lecture will be given by Dr. Kabria Baumgartner, a leading scholar of New England Black history. Next you will travel to Portsmouth, located at the mouth of Great Bay Estuary’s main influx river, the Piscataqua River, and the Atlantic Ocean. Here, facing the sea that carried global colonialism and the radical changes that came with it to these shores, you will be guided on a walking tour of the Portsmouth African Burying Ground and other significant Black history sites by the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, an educational non-profit.
As you encounter all these places and peoples over the week, our team will be working with you on drawing connections between them, showing webs of relationships, exchanges, global geopolitics, inequities, and power dynamics. There will be breakout curriculum development opportunities layered throughout the week, which will culminate in this final day devoted to co-creating curriculum and other educational resources that highlight the dynamism you experienced firsthand over the week. While this institute is based in New England, colonialism was a global process. These stories are embedded everywhere. We will close the week with a sunset tour of the Great Bay Estuary on a Gundalow, a boat that was invented here during early colonialism to move people and goods in and out of this tidal ecosystem.