Historic Deerfield launching three-part Indigenous history series

Staff Report

Published: 07-03-2023 10:04 AM

DEERFIELD — A Deerfield resident and local historian has been tapped to kick off Historic Deerfield’s summer lecture series.

Peter Thomas, an independent historian involved in helping plan the town’s 350th anniversary celebrations as well as several other projects, will lead the first presentation of the museum’s hybrid summer lecture series, “Indigenous Histories of the Mid-Connecticut River Valley.” The series begins July 6 at 7 p.m. and returns each Thursday through July 20 at the Community Center, 80 Old Main St.

Advance registration is required and attendance, both in person and virtually, is free. To register, visit bit.ly/3NTNbq3.

On July 6, Thomas will present “World of the Pocumtuck,” which will explore the Pocumtuck tribe’s history and daily life, as well the significance of intertribal politics during the early years of European colonization. The museum lecture series as a whole aims to tell the stories of Native American tribes in the Connecticut River Valley and how those stories illuminate the “connections between land and history.”

“We need to remember that Native history began long before any European colonists arrived,” Thomas writes in his presentation. “Intertribal relationships continued to be dominant considerations long after the Pilgrims landed. This reality has too often been under-represented in histories of the colonial era, particularly in New England.”

Thomas’ talk will start by focusing on 18,000 years ago, when the glacier that formed the Connecticut River Valley receded north, and will discuss history through 1692, when a group of 150 Native Americans returned to Deerfield for the winter and settled there. He will focus on a variety of subjects within the Pocumtuck world, including warfare, agriculture and how various tribes interacted with European colonists.

Historic Deerfield’s lecture series returns on July 13 with Dartmouth College professor Colin Calloway, who will present “The 1735 Deerfield Conference: Indigenous Diplomacy in Action.”

Closing out the series on July 20 is University of Pennsylvania professor Margaret Bruchac, who will present “Hiding in Plain Sight? Reconsidering Native Histories Along the Kwinitekw.”

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To register for any of these three programs, visit bit.ly/3NTNbq3.