Lecture: “Preserved on the Mighty Waters” – Exploring the Indian Mariners Project

September 27, 2018
By Dr. Jason Mancini, Executive Director, Connecticut Humanities
Reception 6 pm | Lecture 7 pm

Over nine million acres of Indian Country in southern New England and Long Island was reduced to less than 30,000 acres by the American Revolution. Indians across the region adjusted in different ways to this rapidly changing world. One important and largely unseen shift involved the participation of Indian men in various forms of maritime labor – from shipbuilding to whaling. 

This talk focused on the hundreds of Indians that found work in the ports of Mystic, Stonington, and New London and explored their “roots” and “routes,” the global social networks they formed, and their traveling histories from the objects they collected and stories they told. Dr. Mancini presented whaleship routes mapped on Google Earth, detailed from explorations in Hawaii, New Zealand, and Alaska, as well as his own experiences on the “mighty waters.”


 Mancini on a boat

Dr. Jason Mancini is Executive Director of Connecticut Humanities, co-founder of Akomawt Educational Initiative, and former Executive Director of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.  During the past 30 years, he has worked with, conversed, and shared his archival research with the tribes and indigenous peoples of southern New England, Alaska, Hawai’i, and New Zealand.  He is an ally to these communities and works to build awareness of indigenous rights and histories within non-Native contexts. His academic interests include indigenous social networks, Indian mariners, urban Indian communities, race and ethnicity in New England, cultural landscapes, and oral histories. He is the founder and director of the Indian Mariners Project, a collaboration between multiple tribes, institutions, and individuals that explores the history of and ongoing relationship between Native people and the sea.  In his spare time, Jason is Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut, Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Connecticut College, Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Brown University, and Social Sciences Instructor at Sea for Sea Education Association (SEA). Jason holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Connecticut with expertise in the archaeology and ethnohistory of New England. His article, “in contempt and oblivion”: Censuses, Ethnogeography, and Hidden Indian Histories in Eighteenth-Century Southern New England, published in the Journal of Ethnohistory and his forthcoming book projects, “Beyond Reservation: Indian Survivance in Southern New England,” to be published by SUNY Press and “The Narragansett Chief: Adventurers of a Wanderer” (an edited volume) examine the nuanced and subverted histories of the indigenous peoples of the American northeast.

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