Reclaiming the Ancestors sets the record straight about the early history of the Wabanaki - the Abenaki, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Malecite, and Mi'kmaq. Wiseman proposes a sovereigntist approach to understanding the current archaeological understanding of Abenaki prehistory. He begins with an overview of the conflicting views of First Nations and archaeologists regarding Indigenous history and how he developed his research design model. Over the next 10 chapters the book explores and discusses the periods of Wabanaki prehistory. The final chapter takes the history to the beginning of the early contact period. The author makes he point that documentation of Wabanaki territory is of vital importance in today's political climate of Vermont. The Wabanaki face major obstacles as politicians utilize archaeological evidence against the Wabanaki's push for self-governance and recognition. The book contains limited black and white photographs of artifacts because the author made a conscious choice to respect items that were from grave sites. A fascinating history that dispels many previously-held academic viewpoints of the Wabanaki First Nations.
"[My] story is a sash woven of many strands of language. The first strand is the remembered wisdom of the Abenaki community. The second strand is our history and that of our relatives, written down by European, Native American, and Euroamerican observers. The third strand is what our Mother the Earth has revealed to us through the studies and writings of those who delve in her, the archaeologists and paleoecologists. The fourth strand is my own family history and its stories. The fifth strand is, of course, that which has come to me alone, stories which I create with my own beliefs and visions." So begins the first book about Abenaki history and culture written from the inside. Frederick Matthew Wiseman's extensive research and personal engagement breathe life into Voice of the Dawn, making it truly unique. Colin Calloway, Chair of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College, writes, "Going beyond all previous works on the Abenakis, Wiseman draws on family and community knowledge in a way that none of those authors could, speaks from an avowedly Abenaki perspective, and addresses aspects and issues ignored in other works. Moreover, no one that I know of has done as much work in locating and regathering items of Western Abenaki material culture. The quality and quantity of illustrations alone make this an attractive book, as well as a valuable visual record of change and persistence over time. As someone personally and pivotally involved in the Abenaki renaissance, Wiseman brings the story up to date without closing it."
Before European incursions began in the seventeenth century, the Western Abenaki Indians inhabited present-day Vermont and New Hampshire, particularly the Lake Champlain and Connecticut River valleys. This history of their coexistence and conflicts with whites on the northern New England frontier documents their survival as a people-recently at issue in the courts-and their wars and migrations, as far north as Quebec, during the first two centuries of white contacts. Written clearly and authoritatively, with sympathy for this long-neglected tribe, Colin G. Calloway's account of the Western Abenaki diaspora adds to the growing interest in remnant Indian groups of North America. This history of an Algonquian group on the periphery of the Iroquois Confederacy is also a major contribution to general Indian historiography and to studies of Indian white interactions, cultural persistence, and ethnic identity in North America.
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