The NNRC, in Partnership with the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Receives NEH CARES Act Funding to Enhance Online Access to Historical Manuscripts

The Native Northeast Research Collaborative (NNRC), formerly the Yale Indian Papers Project, is an inclusive digital humanities and scholarly editing endeavor with a mission to provide greater access to the recorded history of the Indigenous people(s) of the Atlantic Northeast for the purposes of research, teaching, scholarly analysis, storytelling, and community-based projects. 

The Native Northeast Research Collaborative, with the Mashantucket Museum & Research Center, is excited to announce a six and a half-month grant award of $179,403.00 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support publication of “On Our Own Ground: Pequot Community Papers, 1813-1849,” a record of daily life in two Connecticut Native communities.  Funding comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which is meant to foster activities that promote the Humanities.

NNRC Editors, Paul Grant-Costa and Tobias Glaza, and two Native Editorial Assistants will work with museum staff and representatives from the Eastern Pequot and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nations, to collectively annotate records of the State-appointed overseers of the two Pequots communities. Part of the New London County Court records housed at the Connecticut State Library, these materials span the first half of the 19th century and detail the income and expenses of these communities, including the income derived from land rental or labor, and debt accrued through goods and services delivered to tribal members, providing unique insights into the daily lives of Native people in Early American Republic Connecticut. 

The editorial team will proofread draft transcription copies of records previously prepared by the Museum’s staff over the past twenty years against images of the originals, re-transcribing and adding new material, when necessary, conforming the material to the project’s editorial methodology.  The transcriptions will be enhanced with various kinds of annotation and published online, using a digital platform called the Native Northeast Portal, where they will sit in conversation with hundreds of other records from multiple repositories. 

As an integral part of an ethical editorial process, Tribal representatives will review content, work collaboratively with editors in annotation, commentary and perspective. The efforts will result in a collection of more than 100 previously unpublished, freely-accessible high-quality images, two forms of transcriptions, metadata, interactive biographies, geographies, and commentary for tribal, scholarly, educational and public use. 

While these documents serve as a context for topics popular in recent academic study–the life of noted Pequot author, missionary, and activist, William Apes (1799-1839), and the consequences of the Brothertown Christian Indian movement–they are important in their own right, being foundational for the insights they provide into the lives of Pequot men, women, and children and their struggles with a challenging overseer system.

At the same time, the documents illustrate their survivance during a difficult period, providing examples of individual and collective resilience that are especially meaningful during this modern time of national crisis.

“We’re looking forward to working with members of the Mashantucket Pequot and Eastern Pequot Tribal Nations in a collaborative process to incorporate their understandings of the historical record into the larger narrative,” said Paul Grant-Costa, one of the NNRC’s editors.  “The community’s voice in telling their story is an important way to reclaim a part of the Native American experience in their own words, from their own perspective.”

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center celebrates the vibrancy of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Sister Tribal Communities and seeks to help build meaningful relationships that empower and strengthen them. It is committed to transform how Indigenous cultures and peoples are represented and to accurately present narratives that give greater access to the evolution of new Native voices.  More recently, it has been seeking to leverage current developments in Digital Humanities to transform its digital outreach, attend to the needs of underserved regional Indigenous communities, and broaden the understanding of the histories, cultures, and homelands of Indigenous Peoples of the Northeast. 

Images: Map of New London County, Connecticut, 1854. Walling, Henry Francis. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu;  Eastern Pequot Overseer Records from March 18, 1834 to June 11, 1835, Connecticut Historical Society, Indian Documents, 1661-1773, Pequot.