Abstract

Abstract:

The composite phrase, "our best places," expresses what was at stake in early Indigenous struggles for self-determination and well-being and against colonial invasion in northeastern North America. This article critiques the colonial archive's representation of hyper-masculine Native resistance, by instead asking questions about women's labor and knowledge, about diverse cultivated and foraged plants, and about the place-based dimensions of food sovereignty. Narragansett sachem Miantonomi's organizing activities across the Native Northeast in the early 1640s can be reframed and better understood by applying place-based methodologies to specific sites within the intertribal alliance: in this case, by centering Miantonomi's strong ties of diplomacy and kinship at Suckiaug/Hartford and other Wangunk villages along the lower-middle Connecticut River. There, Wangunk women's knowledge of diverse wetland plants on the floodplains and in the coves of the Connecticut River was integral to food sovereignty. Following recent work in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS), and drawing on insights from archaeology, environmental history, and political ecology, this essay reconstructs an alternative version of Miantonomi's message to allies at Suckiaug and other inland freshwater sites, replacing colonial authorities' obsession with masculine assertions of Native power with more diverse and nuanced affirmations of gendered environmental knowledge, power over the best places, and collective sustenance.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0895
Print ISSN
1543-4273
Pages
pp. 215-263
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-04
Open Access
No
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