In 2012, the town of Madison, Maine, erected a series of new monuments at the site of Nanrantsouak, a Wabanaki homeplace and Jesuit Mission Village that was destroyed in a brutal attack by English colonial forces in 1724. Despite the ongoing relationship that Wabanaki peoples have with this place, mainstream narratives about the site’s history proclaim the 1724 attack to be the end of Wabanaki belonging in this region. Drawing on these narratives as foundational, the new monuments were designed to convey “the national significance” of the site and spark interest in its history among visitors. Yet, despite the project manager’s intensions to include Indigenous histories, the project sparked deep concern among Wabanaki peoples regarding its representation of history and the tendency for projects like this one to reinforce popular stories of Indigenous “vanishing.” What would it mean to “include” Indigenous voices into histories that were designed to erase them from their own lands?
In this presentation, CHI Fellow and Assistant Professor of Native American Studies and Environmental Justice Ashley Smith shares the story of competing forms of “memory work” at the site of Nanrantsouak in her hometown. Engaging deeply with Indigenous methods and place-based ethnography, her talk considers the ongoing relationship Wabanaki peoples have with this place and the production and repetition of settler narratives that deny this relationship in order to unpack the potential dangers of “inclusion” in local public history projects such as this one.
Ashley Smith is a CHI Fellow and visiting lecturer in the Department of American Studies at Amherst College. She is assistant professor of Native American studies and environmental justice at Hampshire College. Smith will discuss her current work, which focuses on the place, history and memory of the Wabanaki village at Nanrantsouak on the upper Kennebec River in Maine. In this work, she considers how Wabanaki story, memory,and kinship to this place resist settler colonial productions of history and memory that have narrated this place as the “end” of the Wabanaki in this area while simultaneously enacting new possibilities for the future.
This event will take place over Zoom. It is open to the public. Pre-registration is required.