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Dawnland Winters: Decolonizing One Season’s History
July 7, 2022 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pmFree
Presented as part of our 2022 Watching the Seasons Change Event Series. This project is supported in part by a grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts & the National Endowment for the Arts.
Seasonal knowledge has been central to Wabanaki sovereignty and to collective well-being in Dawnland, but a “vernal bias” has prevented scholars from fully comprehending the importance of winters in the Native Northeast. Snowshoe trails connected Indigenous nations long before Europeans ever wintered on the continent, and winter has long been a season for education and storytelling in the region. Average temperatures were especially low in the seventeenth century, during the coldest period of the Little Ice Age. Early English colonists were unaccustomed to stable snow cover, and they were slow to develop an infrastructure for winter travel and communication. In the early eighteenth century, however, colonial soldiers appropriated snowshoes for winter attacks against Wabanaki people, creating new and unnatural winter suffering. Centuries later, the Indigenous technology of snowshoes seemingly has become a symbol of so-called “New England winters.” Does the quaint and nostalgic display of traditional snowshoes on non-Indigenous people’s front doors or living rooms walls acknowledge the presence, expertise, or authority of Indigenous people? In what ways might winter knowledge, winter histories, and winter futures in Northern New England be decolonized? By producing grounded histories of climate change in Dawnland, scholars may suggest new ways of understanding and responding to twenty-first century anthropogenic climate change.
Tom Wickman is the author of Snowshoe Country: An Environmental and Cultural History of Winter in the Early American Northeast (Cambridge University Press, 2018). He received his PhD from Harvard University and is associate professor of History and American Studies at Trinity College.
Free and open to all. Presented via Zoom and in person at the Museum of the White Mountains. If you are attending virtually, pre-registration is required. Click here for the Zoom registration link.