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Review: The Recovery of Native American Space in the Northeast

The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast (Indi...

Lisa Brooks


University of Minnesota Press

One of the most contentious issues facing indigenous peoples around the world today is the fight to maintain a connection and identity to – and with – traditional homelands. This fight, largely the historical outcome of imperial and colonial processes over the last four hundred years, is in many cases the only fight that matters for indigenous peoples.

After working closely with indigenous peoples in three different countries, I have learned just how important and closely held the land is. For indigenous peoples, the culture, the language, and the identity of the individual is directly tied to the land. It is the land that informs indigenous peoples and their world views (1). One question that has arisen as a result of this understanding centers on the ways and methods indigenous people can use to maintain their relationship to the land – often traditional homelands that have been occupied for generations – in the face of such overwhelming colonial and imperial forces, both present and past. In the recent book by professor Lisa Brooks, The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast,altwe are given an example from Native North America of one way this identity was maintained.

Looking at indigenous Native American writers, activists, and leaders of colonial Northeast North America, Brooks convincingly argues that Samson Occom, Joseph Brant, Hendrick Aupaumut, and William Apess all used the mechanism of writing to maintain their Native identity and cultural ties to the land. In relying on the tool of writing, these indigenous Native American peoples were able to maintain – and in some instances reclaim – their rights, identity, and culture in the face of incredible colonial and imperial forces. In fact, as Brooks points out this method was indigenous to the Algonquian, Iroquois, Ojibwa, Abenaki, and other Native Americans of the Northeast as demonstrated by their long tradition of making awikhigan.

Read more on The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast here.

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