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William Apess: A Native Son of Western Massachusetts

September 14 @ 7:00 pm

Cormerants gather on the Maine coast at the La Verna nature preserve.
Photo by Kate Abbott

The life of William Apess (1798–1839), a Pequot, Methodist preacher and widely celebrated writer, provides a lens through which to comprehend the complex dynamics of Indigenous survival and resistance in the era of America’s early nationhood.

Apess’s life intersects with multiple aspects of Indigenous identity and existence in this period, including indentured servitude, slavery, service in the armed forces, syncretic engagements with Christian spirituality, and Native struggles for political and cultural autonomy.

Even more, Apess offers a powerful and provocative voice for the persistence of Native presence in a time and place that was long supposed to have settled its “Indian question” in favor of extinction.

Drew Lopenzina is a Professor of English at Old Dominion University who teaches in the intersections of Early American and Native American literatures. He is the author of three books, The Routledge Introduction to Native American Literature (Routledge Press 2020), Through an Indian’s Looking Glass: A Cultural Biography of William Apess, Pequot (University of Massachusetts Press 2017), and Red Ink: Native Americans Picking up the Pen in the Colonial Period (SUNY Press 2012).

Through an Indian’s Looking Glass has been described by the journal Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) as a “tour de force.” Although he currently lives in Norfolk, Virginia, Lopenzina hails from Pittsfield and is a graduate of Berkshire Community College, Class of 1987. His studies focus on the presence of Indigenous peoples in the colonial Northeast.

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We Are Still Here: Indigenous Peoples of the Northeast

At least an estimated 100,000 Native people lived in Massachusetts before European contact — and throughout September the Osher Institute of Lifetime Learning (OLLI) at Berkshire Community college will celebrate their stories.

Explore art shows, music performances, tours of historic sites with emphasis on connections with the Indigenous community, guided reading groups focused on books by Indigenous authors of the Northeast, and four online lectures by leading scholars.

Listen to the music of Hawk Henries, a Nipmuc flutist who makes and plays traditional Nipmuc flutes with musicians around the world, from the London Mozart Players to the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Judy Dow, an artist of Abenaki and French Canadian descent, educator and activist, has had her baskets on display at the Smithsonian and her tapestries on exhibit in Europe with the UN Indigenous organization.

Abenaki, Wabanaki and Haudenosanee writers will share books and stories, and you can walk Main Street, Stockbridge, and learn about the Mohican families and European incomers who founded Stockbridge as an experiment in multicultural living in the mid-18th century.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

If you’d like to see the website grow, you can join me for a few dollars a month, enough for a cup of coffee and a cider doughnut. Members get access to extra stories and multimedia, itineraries a bookmark tool. Let me know what you're looking for, and we’ll explore together.

Event Details

Details

Date:
September 14
Time:
7:00 pm
Event Categories:
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Event Tags:
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Event Location

Berkshire Community College
1350 West St.
Pittsfield, MA
https://www.berkshirecc.edu

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