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The Common Pot

The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast

Lisa Brooks
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    The Common Pot
    Book Description:

    Lisa Brooks demonstrates the ways in which Native leaders—including Samson Occom, Joseph Brant, Hendrick Aupaumut, and William Apess—adopted writing as a tool to reclaim rights and land in the Native networks of what is now the northeastern United States. She shows that writing was not a foreign technology but rather a crucial weapon in the Native Americans’ arsenal as they resisted—and today continue to oppose—colonial domination._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6629-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xv)
  4. A Note on the Maps
    (pp. xvi-xviii)
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  6. Introduction: A Map to the Common Pot
    (pp. xix-xlvi)

    In her recent journey journal,Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country, Louise Erdrich tells us that in the Ojibwe language the words forbookandrock paintingare almost identical, and the root of both these words,mazina, is “the root for dozens of words all concerned with made images and with the substances upon which the images are put,” including those of photographs, movie screens, and television sets. Erdrich observes, “The Ojibwe people were great writers from way back and synthesized the oral and written tradition by keeping mnemonic scrolls of inscribed birchbark. The first paper, the first books.”...

  7. 1 Alnôbawôgan, Wlôgan, Awikhigan: Entering Native Space
    (pp. 1-50)

    Buried within the vocabulary at the back of an obscure nineteenth-century “teaching” book is a word that defines an Algonquian conception of nativity. According to Abenaki author Peter Paul Wzokhilain,alnôbawôganmeans both “human nature” and “birth.” It is translated literally as the activity of “being (or becoming) human.” So it would seem that, in Wabanaki philosophy, the very nature of being human is rooted not in the consciousness of our mortality but in our natality. The missionary Chrestien LeClercq observed that the Mi’kmaq “rejoice all in common on the birth of their children, even to making feasts, public speeches,...

  8. 2 Restoring a Dish Turned Upside Down: Samson Occom, the Mohegan Land Case, and the Writing of Communal Remembrance
    (pp. 51-105)

    Moving from the interior toward the coast, we travel downriver from Ktsi Amiskw to Pashebauk, “at the mouth of the river,” where Kwinitekw empties into Sobakw, the sea. From the extensive fields beneath Ktsi Amiskw, the Pocumtuck sent corn to feed starving English settlers in the fledgling “Connecticut” colony at the mouth of the river, which in turn fed the colonists’ notorious assault on the Pequot village, in which their relations, the Mohegans, participated. Generations later, the Pequots and Mohegans would serve as scouts for the former captive Joseph Kellogg at Deerfield during Greylock’s War. Stephen Williams recalled that it...

  9. 3 Two Paths to Peace: Competing Visions of the Common Pot
    (pp. 106-162)

    From the mouth of Kwinitekw we now travel back upriver to Fort Dummer, where the Mohawk leader Hendrick and the Mohican leader Aupaumut served during Greylock’s War, then to the Housatonic, Muhhekunnutuk, and Mohawk Rivers where they both had homes and kin. We follow the paths of their grandsons, who served on opposite sides in the American Revolution and developed competing visions of reconstruction in its wake.

    In a meeting with American emissary Timothy Pickering held at Newtown Point to discuss the potential for peacemaking between the recently established United States and the “Western Indians” of the Ohio River Valley,...

  10. 4 Regenerating the Village Dish: William Apess and the Mashpee Woodland Revolt
    (pp. 163-197)

    Moving from the interior of the Ohio Valley, in this chapter we return to Sobakw, the sea, and to Kwinitekw, where the Pequot preacher, writer, and intellectual William Apess was born just upriver from Ktsi Amiskw, on a branch of Pocumpetekw in Colrain, Massachusetts. We return to the Mohegan hunting grounds and to the town of Colchester, Connecticut, where Apess was raised, then travel with him to the territory near Brant’s Grand River, to the mountain of his rebirth. Finally, we follow him to the southeast coast and to Mashpee, in Wampanoag territory, where the descendants of Weetamoo and King...

  11. 5 Envisioning New England as Native Space: William Apess’s Eulogy on King Philip
    (pp. 198-218)

    Two years after William Apess joined the Mashpee leadership in addressing the Massachusetts legislature, he returned to Boston, taking the stage at the prestigious Odeon lecture hall to deliver the words above. The “Eulogy on King Philip,” Apess’s final and most provocative petition, emerged, in many respects, from his experience at Mashpee. Most likely an extension of the “pamphlet” he read at the schoolhouse, theEulogywas published in 1836 after Apess presented the oratorical address in Boston and was compelled to deliver an encore performance. At Mashpee, Apess had facilitated the construction of an empowering conceptual space that united...

  12. 6 Awikhigawôgan: Mapping the Genres of Indigenous Writing in the Network of Relations
    (pp. 219-245)

    In the recently published dictionary of the contemporary Western Abenaki language, Gordon Day defines the wordawikhiganas “book” or “letter” andawikhigawôganas “writing,” while the root wordawigha- denotes “to mark, draw, or write.”² The wordawikhiganhas come to encompass a wide array of texts, and its scope is still expanding. It has proven to be an adaptable instrument. The forms that indigenous texts took in the northeast during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries arose from a utilitarian aesthetic rooted in the instrumentality of writing. The aesthetic achievement of these literary forms was dependent on their rhetorical...

  13. 7 Concluding Thoughts from Wabanaki Space: Literacy and the Oral Tradition
    (pp. 246-254)

    In a classic scene from James Fenimore Cooper’sThe Last of the Mohicans, the white scout Natty Bumppo, aka “Hawkeye,” ruminates on the conflict between “books” and the oral tradition in speaking to his “adopted” father, Chingachgook:

    I am willing to own that my people have many ways, of which, as an honest man, I can’t approve. It is one of their customs to write in books what they have done and seen, instead of telling them in their villages, where the lie can be given to the face of a cowardly boaster, and the brave soldier can call on...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 255-320)
  15. Index
    (pp. 321-346)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 347-347)