Discussions about, toward,
around, and alongside the
New England American Studies
Association's Fall 2011 Conference.
See the schedule at the bottom of
the page, and please add your voice
and perspective to the mix!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Friday: Indigenous New England Literature

How many Native American authors can you name from New England? BESIDES Samson Occom and William Apess. At Plimoth, you'll be able to learn about a rich regional indigenous literary history, going at least as far back as Mi'kmaq hieroglyphics and as far forward as Narragansett children's poetry. Even better, you get to meet some talented contemporary local Native authors, hear them read, and buy their books.

On Friday afternoon (Session 3A at 2:15) we will have a roundtable discussion with editors of Dawnland Voices: Writing from Indigenous New England. This anthology, years in the making and about 600 pages in manuscript form, is under contract with the University of Nebraska Press; if we're lucky, we should see it sometime next year.

The book is organized by nation, and each nation has a community editor--a tribal elder and/or historian who selected and introduced the texts. Three of these editors will be on hand to discuss the project: Joan Tavares Avant (Mashpee Wampanoag), Dawn Dove (Narragansett), and Stephanie Fielding (Mohegan). It's awe-inspiring to hear how much they know about tribal writing, how they located and chose texts for publication, and how they presented them. This is grass-roots canon-building!

Friday evening, Joan will read from her book, People of the First Light; along with Larry Spotted Crow Mann (Nipmuc), who has published a book of stories called Tales from the Whispering Basket; Mihku Paul (Maliseet), who has a forthcoming poetry chapbook; and Mohegan Medicine Woman Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, who has a new Victorian Gothic, Fire Hollow.

If you want to learn a little more about these and other regional Native writers, you can follow the blog, Indigenous New England Literature . We also have an "Indigenous New England Literature" book discussion group on Goodreads.com. And hopefully, before too long, students at UNH will be launching an online archive of regional indigenous literature. Stay tuned, and come on Friday!

Siobhan Senier
University of New Hampshire

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