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The River to which I Belong: Relationships of Reciprocity and Resistance in the Waterways of Wabanaki -- A lecture by Lisa Brooks

  • Hannaford Hall, USM 88 Bedford Street Portland, ME 04104 United States (map)

In 1739, the Wabanaki leader Polin traveled from the Presumpscot River down the coast to Boston to protest the dams that blocked the passage of the abundant fish on which his community depended. Wabanaki people had developed and sustained a dynamic, reciprocal relationship with salmon on the Presumpscot River over thousands of years, a relationship which was directly threatened by both colonial wars and colonial development, including intensive deforestation, powered by dams. Polin’s protest was not an exceptional event but part of a long-term, adaptive resistance, arising from a vast and multifaceted community within the Wabanaki homeland, which continues today.

About Lisa Brooks:

Lisa Brooks is an Abenaki writer and scholar who lives and works in the Kwinitekw (Connecticut River) Valley. She is Professor of English and American Studies at Amherst College and is active in the Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, which she chaired from 2013-2017. While an undergraduate at Goddard College, Lisa worked in the tribal office of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi, on aboriginal rights and land preservation cases; this was the place she received her most important education—on the land and at kitchen tables, with other Abenaki community members. Learning from her family has been vital – she collaborated with her sister, environmental studies scholar Cassandra Brooks, to research and write “The Reciprocity Principle and ITEK: Understanding the Significance of Indigenous Protest on the Presumpscot,” published in the International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies in 2010. Lisa’s first book, The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast(University of Minnesota Press 2008), which focused on the recovery of Native writing and spaces, received the Media Ecology Association's Dorothy Lee Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Culture in 2011. Her most recent book, Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War, which begins and ends in Casco Bay, received the Bancroft Award for History and Diplomacy and the New England Society Book Award for Historical Nonfiction in 2019. As a Whiting Public Engagement Fellow, she worked with a team of students and colleagues, to develop a companion website,, which features full color digital maps of Native space. Lisa was honored in 2018 with the Maine Historical Society’s Neal Allen Award for exceptional contributions to Maine history.

Lecture Co-sponsor: The Osher Map Library.

Lecture Co-sponsor: College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Location: USM's Hannaford Hall - located in the Abromson Community Education Center on the Portland Campus at 88 Bedford St, Portland, ME 04104