Retrieving indigenous spaces is decolonising work: Lisa Brooks, ‘”Every Swamp is a Castle”: Navigating Native Spaces in the Connecticut River Valley, Winter 1675–1677 and 2005–2015’, Northeastern Naturalist, 24, 7, 2017, pp. 45-80


Abstract: This essay focuses on the historical and ecological landscape of King Philip’s War (1675–1678), highlighting 2 spaces in Kwinitekw, the Western Abenaki term for the Connecticut River Valley, during the harsh winter of 1675–1676. I track the captive Mary Rowlandson’s journey with the Wampanoag leader Weetamoo through the interior Nipmuc country and Kwinitekw and discuss the Penacook leader Wanalancet’s winter refuge in the Kwinitekw headwaters. This paper highlights an indigenous studies methodology of place-based, experiential research in the land and waterways, in combination with more traditional historical and literary methodologies. It also demonstrates the importance of indigenous language and place names in mapping historical contexts, understanding ecological knowledge, and interpreting the movements of leaders. The paper focuses on the vast expanse of the Wabanaki country, which is often neglected or misrepresented in colonial-era histories, and especially the “extensive and varied ‘winterlands’” highlighted by the scholarship of Thomas Wickman. The essay features maps of areas historically inhabitated by Native peoples created with ArcGIS by a collaborative team, and highlights contemporary on-the-ground engagement with these places, the knowledge gained from reading the archive of the land, and the possibility of understanding of these spaces as vital ecological and social communities, which have much to teach us today.

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