Re-Assessing the Legend of Hannah Duston | New Hampshire Public Radio

Re-Assessing the Legend of Hannah Duston

Jul 31, 2020

Just as the Black Lives Matter movement inspired a re-consideration of Confederate statues, Native Americans are now calling for a closer look at the history of Hannah Duston’s statue in Boscawen. Her tale of native slaughter made her a colonial era heroine, but controversial in our time. Now there are efforts underway to expand the story to include Abenaki history.

Airdate: Monday, August 3, 2020


GUESTS:

Learn more about the Unity Park N'dakinna project and how a number of communities are revisiting the Hannah Duston site to uncover its many meanings and working on pathways forward.  The Abenaki language word N’dakinna, meaning “Our Land,” points to this regrounding in place. The website also offers resources to learn more.

The Commission on Native American Affairs recognizes the historic and cultural contributions of Native Americans to New Hampshire, promotes and strengthens Native American heritage and furthers the needs of New Hampshire’s Native American community through state policy and programs.

Another multi-year community effort to raise awareness in the state is called the Indigenous New Hampshire Collaborative Collective.

This show was inspired by this Concord Monitor article about proposed changes to the Hannah Duston site.

Listen to a 2015 Exchange show with author Jay Atkinson about his book "Massacre on the Merrimack"

Read here: Why an American Woman Who Killed Indians Became Memorialized as the First Female Public Statue

Listen to NHPR reporter Jack Rodolico on this 99% Invisible podcast episode about the history and ambivalence around the Hannah Duston site.

This article describes the current controversy over the Hannah Duston statue in Haverhill, MA.

Credit Photo by Craig Michaud
Transcript

  This transcript is machine-generated and contains errors.

Laura Knoy:
I'm Laura Knoy and this is The Exchange.

Laura Knoy:
Given the current controversy over Confederate statues, how should we view the statue of Hannah Duston in colonial times? She was lauded as a hero for killing and scalping 10 natives who had captured her. A statue of Duston was erected in 1874 and still stands on an island in the Merrimack River. But today, many feel the story and the statue are problematic. Our guests today are among those native Granite Staters and historians who say the standard Duston narrative offers too simple a view of an incredibly complicated time in New England history. And they're working to retell this legend through a much wider lens today. In exchange, how should we view the Hannah Duston story?

Laura Knoy:
Our guests are Denise Pouliot of the Cowasuck Band of Pennacook Abenaki people. She is the Sag8moskwa or lead female speaker, also Meghan Howey, professor and chair of UNH's Anthropology Department, and Christine DeLucia, an assistant professor at Williams College specializing in history and native studies. Welcome to all of you. And Christine, I'd like to start with you before we get into Hannah Duston. I think it's important to remind people about this time period that we're talking about, commonly referred to as the French and Indian Wars. What was this all about, Christine? What was the fighting all about?

Christine DeLucia:
So I think it's important for people to be able to place the particular story of Hannah Duston into the context of how much tumultuous happenings were occurring in the late 17th century. It's important to realize that by 1697, when she's taken captive, there have been decades and generations of conflict between the native people who have been living in these homelands in the Northeast for thousands of years, and the relatively newly arrived English colonists in New England and also the French colonizers to the north. And so by the time King William's war rolls around in 1689, which is part of the conflict in which Duston is taken captive, there have already been a series of incredibly devastating wars from the Pequod war in the 1630s to King Philip's War and Indigenous Resistance movement in the 1670s. And I mention this because it really doesn't give us the fuller story if we're only looking at Duston and her experience in isolation, instead needing to realize that native people are pushing back against being displaced from their homelands, they have been experiencing enormous economic challenges, epidemic disease. And these tensions are really coming to a boiling point by the late part of the 17th century. Something else I would mention, because we're going to be talking about captivity today, is that throughout the 17th century, English colonizers were taking native people as captives and selling hundreds of them into slavery, both in New England and then into the Caribbean and across the Atlantic world. And so that's sheds a different kind of light on this period when there is this intense violence happening in all different quadrants. And Duston's story is at the intersection of many of those violences. To answer your question specifically about what's going on in 1697, this is a time when the French and the English and a really complicated coalition of native people are becoming allied in different ways and going to war. And in some ways, this is a conflict that is spilling over from Europe into North America. But it has these very local dynamics in the Northeast.

Laura Knoy:
It's really interesting, too. And Christine, I've always wondered about the naming of this time period, the French and Indian Wars, the English colonists were part of it, too. But calling it the French and Indian Wars reflects a perspective, doesn't it?

Christine DeLucia:
Most definitely. And historians think a lot about the interpretive work that names are doing. French and Indian does not get us to the understanding that native people were situated on all different sides of this conflict. And we're not only kind of one group of opponents, but had a lot of different motivations of their own and different understandings of sovereignty and their own best futures. Also, this particular war, which is sometimes referred to as King William's war, was not necessarily how people on the ground understood it. That is a reference to the English monarch who is in power at the time if people are wanting some clarification on that.

Laura Knoy:
And so calling it the French and Indian Wars, Christine, kind of makes the English sound like the victims, like they were warred upon by French and Indians. I'm just wondering why we don't call it the French and Indian and English wars.

Christine DeLucia:
It's a great question and it is as much about memory as history. I'm thinking about the ways that in the United States we are often presented with a particular vantage on this time and this place that tends to center and valorise to a certain extent the experiences of English descended people.

Christine DeLucia:
And here in New England, we get a really potent version of that story, which tends to either erase or sort of simplify the French involvement and instead kind of miss these larger complexities about just how many shifting alliances and motivations there were. And to your point about New England innocence, I think the three of us are going to have some things to say about the way that a monument strongly plays into a particular version of New England colonial martyrdom and victimhood. That, again, is not really getting us to a clearer understanding of English colonization, meaning the expansion often very violent of English homes, towns, economic interests across these native homelands in the Northeast.

Laura Knoy:
Well, and Denise I'd love to hear from you, too, on this. What's been lacking in your opinion, Denise, of standard descriptions of this time period that Christine describes?

Denise Pouliot:
I would say it's pretty much the entire indigenous perspective, history through this time period is written for the French and in English lens, and the indigenous view tends to be negated throughout the entire process.

Laura Knoy:
And give us more, Denise, if you were writing these history books, what perspective would you put in there? What is missing that needs to be added to this general understanding of how this time period is presented, Denise?

Denise Pouliot:
Well, when you travel around the state of New Hampshire, there are a lot of state markers that discuss this particular time period. And when you view these state markers, they tend to talk about massacres or other acts of defiance or unrest. But what they fail to recognize is that that act of unrest was a repercussion from a prior unjust act. So, you know, a lot of these stories that are told are strictly based on an English perspective, which doesn't want to acknowledge their role and in how the the facts of history unfold.

Laura Knoy:
That's really interesting. So these stateside state roadside markers that we've all seen, these big green sort of old-fashioned looking markers talk about massacres in a way, Denise, that makes it sound like, well, the English were just standing around having dinner and all of a sudden they were massacred. So it's kind of that's what you're trying to say?

Denise Pouliot:
I think absolutely. It makes it sound like all of a sudden out of the blue, you know, this war party showed up and, you know, burned the village or burned a town and, you know, captured or kidnapped people for, to be sold back to the English. You know, they fail to recognize the acts that took place prior, whether it was bad trade, land theft. You know, it could have been anything that occurred prior to that event. So I just find history is lacking in its current form. And in order to tell an inclusive story of America, we have to give it from all perspectives. And for us to move forward as a nation, as one people, we need to include these perspectives.

Laura Knoy:
Meghan, similar question how has this violent, turbulent time in our history been presented in most schools? For example, when you teach this time period to college students, what do you find lacking, Meghan?

Meghan Howey:
Yeah, that's a great question. I teach a class on kind of introduction of Native American studies, an anthropological class on that topic. And I think kids, UNH with a lot of New England students, they're really shocked to find out the Pilgrim story, the first Thanksgiving story wasn't so simple. Right. And maybe not entirely positive. I think Christine said it well. There's this valorization of the English side, especially in New England. Right. Like this is the place where the British were successful and established the bases that ultimately became the 13 colonies and all of that. So I think students are very receptive to hearing how complicated this time period really was. But they don't come in with that concept at all. They come in with the concept of those road markers, of that kind of very simple...the British came, they got along with the Indians and the Indians turned on them and they had to fight them. That's kind of the history. And they're interested in knowing it's actually much more nuanced than that. So, wow.

Laura Knoy:
So not completely understanding the story, but receptive to realising that there are many sides to this story, many people experiencing this story.

Meghan Howey:
Definitely, students are definitely very interested in that, I think a lot of students feel like, why didn't I learn more about this before? And I think that's with efforts like this that we're trying to undertake. These are the ways to change that. Right. So we have a much more inclusive version of history to work with.

Laura Knoy:
Well, and it's interesting, Meghan, so students say, why didn't I know about this before? Why do you think they didn't know about it before? I mean, it's you know, it's 2020. So we've been talking about these issues for a while.

Meghan Howey:
Yeah, I think it's really challenging, Denise could probably speak well to this, you know, state curriculum standards, kind of radical revisioning of, I would say, decolonising education. Right. That's work that is happening. But you're working with a big, I think we all know schools now are big bureaucracies, very complicated places. And I think it's changing. It's definitely changing. I mean, we've had some great successes. I take a lot of anthropology students into schools with Paul and Denise and other collaborators. And we do, teachers want that. They want to hear more about it. But it's not in the required curriculum yet. It's slowly but surely getting there. But I think that's part of the problem. But it's changing. It is changing. And kids want it. I mean, my kids want you know, I have a nine year old and a seven year old and my nine year old reads all the time and wants to know everything. He wants to know not just one simple thing, you know, I mean, kids get into it and we should give it to them.

Laura Knoy:
Well, and Denise, so your thoughts on that, too, we here on The Exchange have done, you know, many shows over the years looking at Hannah Duston saying it's time to tell the full story. You have been working on efforts for a long time, Denise and Meghan and Christine. Why do you think that this understanding is still lacking?

Denise Pouliot:
I think it's to maintain a sense of calm and familiarity with everything that's been going on. It's uneasy for people to change what they've learned because they truly want to believe in their educators. So to find out that they were taught something inappropriately is difficult to understand, to understand and to relate to. So I just think that, you know, here in New Hampshire, we've been working with the New Hampshire Historical Society on some new educational curriculum that they're developing. So we are trying to get the indigenous voice heard within the state.And it is a slow process, but it is happening and we're grateful to the individuals who are taking the time to include the voices of others.

Laura Knoy:
Yeah, and in a few minutes, we will talk about the project that you all are working on to rethink the Hannah Duston Memorial and the site, and that, I'm guessing, will be used as a vehicle to tell this broader story.

Laura Knoy:
So, Christine, going back to your early description about this time period and all the wars and the violence and how frightening and disruptive it was, put the Duston family into this into this picture that you painted for us. Christine, please. Just for people who aren't familiar with the legend, you know, who they were, where they lived and so forth.

Christine DeLucia:
Right. So I think it's important to start with the river and to have a sense of place, because this is so important not only to the history, but also to the current project. The Duston family is living in Haverhill, Massachusetts. This is an area that had been colonized earlier in the 17th century. And there is a lot of growth happening among the English community there. Hannah is part of a large family. Her family is involved in various kind of social tensions, even some legal cases before any of this happens. And it's a large family, many children, they are taken captive in the course of a raid that happens in 1697. And something I want to stress is that this is not an anomalous incident. It's not the first time that there is targeted violence like this in the Northeast. This has been going on for decades. And surely the Duston family was aware of other occurrences like this that had happened both nearby and quite far away. So Hannah is taken captive, along with Mary Neff, one of her female neighbors and her infant child. And part of what I'm saying here, by the way, comes through the lens of the story as it is told and retold later. And so I kind of want to pause here and ask listeners to to to maybe take a step back from a seamless historical narrative and to realize that at every point when we're trying to do something as seemingly simple as narrate her story, there are always questions about sources and what is known.

Christine DeLucia:
But in the interests of giving a little bit more of a capsule version of her story, they are taken north by a native group that we understand to have likely been a family group. So many women and children are part of this group and they begin moving north. Something to emphasize about captivity, I think I think people don't always understand what that means. The intention of the native group that had taken these English captives was not to kill them all at the outset. If they had wanted to inflict that violence, they would have back in Haverhill, where many people are killed. But it's important for us to think about captivity as economic. The goal of this in part was to bring English captives north to other native communities in the north or New France communities where these captives would be sold or redeemed. And so there's a monetary component to this. And I think that we can then see Duston's story differently when we realize the incredible financial value that she and the others with her would have had to their native captors, meaning there's a desire to keep them alive in order to then be able to sell them. I'm not sure how much how much you want me to go up until the moment of violence. Which takes place well north of Haverhill right there traveling up the rivers, and it is by the confluence of the creek and the Merrimack that this group stops and makes a camp.

Christine DeLucia:
They're resting, they're feeding themselves and under cover of night. As the story goes, Hannah manages to get out of her bonds. And with those are Mary Neff and also a captive named Samuel Larson are able to attack the native people under cover of night while they are asleep and kill a number of native children as well as adults using a, it's been called a tomahawk, but it's a small kind of axe. And as a result of this, Hannah and her associates are then able to free themselves and begin to return south. But as the story goes again, they pause and they decide to turn back briefly in order to take scalps from those who they have just killed in this horrendous event. And they do that in part, again, because of financial motives. They know that there has been a scalp bounty offered down in Massachusetts and they are hoping to get income and also to prove that they have inflicted this violence. And so that's, I think, where a particularly sort of difficult aspect of her story comes in, that she goes and she she scalpts the native people who she has just murdered.

Christine DeLucia:
Another piece of the story that I will mention, and maybe Meghan and Denise want to expand on this, is that the story, as told, also involves the death on roots of Hannah, Dustin's infant daughter.

Laura Knoy:
Yes, I'm glad you mentioned that, because this story has been presented as a mother's revenge. So go ahead, Christine.

Christine DeLucia:
Right. And keeping in mind that Duston is taken captive very shortly after she has given birth, she is probably in painful physical condition when she is taken on the road effectively. And the account of what happens to her daughter has largely been relayed through Cotton Mather, who's a Puritan minister who avidly takes down and then retells her story through a very biblical lens. And there are probably some questions we should ask about that, because Cotton Mather is a filter on her story. But it seems apparent that her infant daughter is killed by her native captors. And I think that that has presented some real challenges in thinking about this monument because it is a mother's loss. She has lost this infant very traumatically and there may be a way in which that loss upsets her own psyche, creates a situation of such immense difficulty for her that it then shapes her actions afterwards. But I know that both Denise and Meghan and I were talking about the gender aspect of this story and the ways that that then plays out into the monuments. And I thought, well, you know, you can't avoid that piece of it.

Laura Knoy:
No. And there's been much written about that. And it's really interesting. And good job, Christine, by the way, summarizing a story that there have been books written about. We have to take a short break. When we come back, Denise and Meghan, I'll definitely pull you in on this as well. Lots of questions. I also have a couple of emails that I'd love to share with you. Coming up, more on reassessing Hannah Duston, the story and the statue. Stay with us.

Laura Knoy:
This is The Exchange I'm Laura Knoy today rethinking the Hannah Duston legend and the New Hampshire monument that honors her. How might the place that honors Hannah Duston be redone, reimagined, made better? Our guests are Denise Pouliot of the Cowasuck Band of Pennacook Abenaki people. She is the Sag8moskwa or the lead female speaker. Also Meghan Howey, professor and chair of UNH Anthropology Department, and Christine DeLucia, an assistant professor at Williams College specializing in history and Native American studies. Let's go to Deborah first, calling from Stratham. Hi, Deborah. Go ahead. You're on the air. Welcome.

Caller:
I was just calling in because I was born and raised in Haverhill and my mother went to Hannah Duston school, I went to Hannah Duston grammar school. We have the rock right behind our where the school used to be. And there's a monument of her in one of the squares in Haverhill. And we were taught about, you know, everything in the history, what happened to Hannah Duston and and of course, the Indians. I have a little bit of Indian in me, I have a Miꞌkmaq and I'm originally from (inaudible) French-Canadian, but I don't know how I feel about the doing away with the monument because it's such a big history where I grew up. And most people...I don't know if your teacher or the one writing the book said that Hannah Duston just gave birth to a child. This is what we were taught. And on the way up through the Merrimack her captives bludgeoned her infant against a tree. And so I haven't heard her speak of that. But I just wonder what you have to say about that.

Laura Knoy:
Deborah, I'm so happy to hear from you, because, first of all, you're from Haverhill. You went to Hannah Duston School. There is the Hannah Duston monument. So it's important for listeners to know that. You also mention what Christine said before the break, that Hannah Dustin's baby was killed during this captivity walk. Although, Christine, we don't know exactly what happened to the baby. The story is told through Cotton Mather's words, as you said, a very fiery Puritan preacher who was definitely trying to whip up the story. But, Christine, since she referenced what you said, I wonder if you want to jump in.

Christine DeLucia:
Yeah. And I mean it is known that her child dies and the circumstances of that must have been extremely traumatic for her. And I want to underscore that point. The loss of the child is something that likely remains with her for the rest of her life and also strongly shapes the way that this history is remembered and represented. As you were mentioning, there's a lot of interest in her in following centuries as a heroic mother, as a vengeful mother, as someone who is enacting this specifically maternal role. And I think that that has been used as a way to to humanize her and also to mobilize sympathy for Hannah Duston. Something that our project is doing, and I know Meghan and Denise have both described this as an inclusive project. So up in New Hampshire, not trying to take down the memorial, but rather to expand the story. And I think a piece of that is to recognize that there were also native children who were killed by Hannah Duston and that there is familial loss on many different sides here.

Laura Knoy:
All sides. Sure. Well, and I'm so glad you said that too Deborah that you're not sure how you feel about getting rid of the monument, because that does get us to where we need to go. And that is what the three of you are working on right now. So, Denise, describe the spot where the statue and the marker are placed and what your vision is to change it. From what I understand, it does not involve taking the statue down.

Denise Pouliot:
That's correct. When you arrive at the Park and Ride on Route 4 in Boswcawen, you initially feel that the place is unkept. There's a dirt path that goes down leading towards the monument where you have to cross a railroad bridge to access the island. And once you get on to the island, there is approximately a 30 foot statue of Hannah Duston and the statue is well-worn. It was recently vandalized. So at this juncture, it's currently covered in red paint. But our goal here was not to remove the statue. Our goal here is to expand the site to tell the entire story. Right now, when you when you visit that site, all you have is the statue. There's no context whatsoever of what the statue is for, what it's about. Just that there's a woman with a hatchet with scalps in her hand. And that disturbs a lot of people.

Denise Pouliot:
So our goal is to make the park more friendly and inclusive of society as a whole and and turn it into an educational space where we can not just tell the Cotton Mather version of Hannah Duston's story, but we can expand upon the historical significances and the history that's been uncovered surrounding the events. But beyond Hannah Duston, we want to include some history about the railroad. There's railroad tracks right there. And then you have the river. It's right there at a bend at the Merrimack River, which it tends to be a popular swimming hole for locals, even though that's not encouraged.

Denise Pouliot:
But we want to install a canoe or a kayak launch. So that way the park becomes more recreational use. Put in some benches so people can actually sit and enjoy the park. There's a lot of ideas that we have to put into this park to make it more of an inclusive space. And we're just at the beginning of those discussions. And so this is a very exciting time for us and for the story of Hannah Duston.

Laura Knoy:
Well, given the popularity of canoeing and kayaking, that would definitely bring people to the site. Denise. Just for people who don't know Denise, where is the historical marker then that again, that big green sort of metal sign that we see similar all over the state. But where is the Hannah Duston Highway marker?

Denise Pouliot:
That is right at the park and ride at the top of the hill before you head down the path to see the monument.

Laura Knoy:
Ok, and it says you don't have to cite chapter and verse, Denise, but just give us a sense of what it says.

Denise Pouliot:
I don't have the marker directly in front of me, but it gives a rough story recap of the Hannah Duston monument. But once again, it's a one-sided version. So part of the project would be to broaden that perspective.

Laura Knoy:
Really interesting. And Meghan you, too, your hopes for how this spot might be redone.

Meghan Howey:
Yeah, I think this is a really interesting opportunity, given the complexity of Hannah Duston and the time period in which these these things happened to tell a kind of, as Denise puts it, we're inclusiion-ists, and that's to expand rather than retract the story. So I think it's really an opportunity that for New Hampshire to lead in a way and show that that we can tell histories that are hard and difficult and we can all kind of come to this place and hopefully reflect, be challenged perhaps in some ways of our preconceived notions, challenged in what we've long believed or thought. But leave with a fuller picture of kind of our shared history, I guess, is our goal with this. So I think it's a truly unique opportunity. Also something I think is important to think about and we're talking quite a bit about is there's a Hannah Duston story, right, of 1697. But there's also the story of when that statue was put up so many years later in 1874 and thinking a lot about why Hannah Duston was put up, a statue of Hannah Duston. And I was talking with Christine and Denise, and, you know, there's a lot of stories of captivity where of women and children by native communities where they return and had a great and happy experience with their native captors. And they often adopt native names, these kind of things, and then they return to their home, their English communities, and lived out the rest of their lives. And none of those stories were, none of those women were chosen to be a monument, Hannah Duston was chosen to be a monument because it's a very different kind of story that was used. Offers more of a propaganda of kind of look at the wrongs that were, that native people did to kind of colonists. So I think I hope we expand not just the 1600s story, but also why she was put up then in the 1800s.

Laura Knoy:
And yeah, that's a really important point. She is captured in the late 1600s, but the statue doesn't go up until 1874, as you're alluding to, Meghan, a time when white settlers needed a justification for westward expansion and so forth. And we'll definitely get to that. But I'd love to go to another caller first. Kate is in Franklin calling in. Hi, Kate. You're on the air. Welcome.

Caller:
Hi. Good morning. Such a wonderful discussion. And I'm so, so pleased to hear that the deep thinking that's going on about this statue and its legacies. I do have a question sort of connecting to the economics of it. The standard story is that Hannah returned back after the massacre to collect the scalps, presumably for a bounty. But from what I read in Jay Atkinson book Massacre on the Merrimack, and Jay is not a historian, is a journalist, not a historian. But he suggests that at that point, the English were not giving bounties for scalps and that, in fact, Hannah had to go and really put her case to get the compensation. And it seems that according to this book, that it was because of the economic devastation that her town had experienced, that her family had suffered due to the raid, that they they gave her some compensation for the scalps. But I just wanted to sort of put that out there and sort of complicate the story that this sort of reinforces this idea of the economic consequences and impact of the raids on both sides, as you're talking about. Both the Native Americans who are looking for captives as a source of revenue, but also for the colonists. I mean, the point was really to make it unlivable for them, these raids.

Laura Knoy:
Really interesting and great to hear from you, Kate, and I want to let everybody know that we interviewed Jay Atkinson about his book back in 2015. There's a link on our Web site, NHPR.org/Exchange. That was a great hour we have with Jay a couple of years ago. Also, we talked earlier about the historical marker and there is a photo of that on the website as well, if you want to see the actual words there. But, Christine, to you real quickly, please, because you did touch on the economics of this, and she's right. It's important to think about the economics behind all these actions by all these different people mixing together,

Christine DeLucia:
Of course, and the status of these scalp bounties changes a lot over the course of the 17th into the 18th century. The amount of money that was ultimately sought by Duston and her family. Twenty five pounds was a lot of money at the time. And I think we yes, we need to recognize that this was a big ask that she was making. There's also this way that the petition that Duston and her husband make to get this bounty, even though it had been kind of taken off the books by that point, it's another moment when their story is told and aired publicly. And there's a really strong moral and you might even say religious valence to it in that they are playing up. They're really spotlighting the nature of the trauma that she has experienced and presenting her actions as morally upright. And that is part of the case that they are making in order to gain this bounty. So one thing to think about is the way that the telling and retelling of this story has always served different social purposes. And a monument is also part of that story. Why a community puts up a monument at a certain moment in time, as Meghan was saying, is very much about what is going on at that moment, as much as it is about the actual historical event that it is trying to reference.

Laura Knoy:
Yeah, Denise, I'd like your thoughts on that too, what Meghan touched on earlier. Again, Hannah Duston is captured in the late 1600s. The monument goes up in 1874. So what's the motivation there? Denise, what do you think?

Denise Pouliot:
Simply put, to justify westward expansion and the stealing of indigenous lands. That's the basic basic output of it. I, I don't see any other reason to do so. Hannah's story had been pretty much, had gone by for two hundred years and then all of a sudden they magically pulled it out of the ashes and erected a statue. I don't see any other purpose, and I hope someone else can educate me otherwise because I would love to hear a different perspective, but from an indigenous perspective, we just fail to see any other purpose.

Laura Knoy:
We got an email this morning from Déodonné Dustin, one of the descendants of Hannah Duston. So four descendants of Hannah Duston sent us an email, Rosamond Dustin Cain, Ko Dustin, Asa Dustin, and Déodonné Dustin Bhattarai, and they said below is a statement from some of Dustin's great grandchildren. Please note that we do not speak for the Duston-Dustin Family Association. And that double Duston is because it's spelled differently. But here's what they say: We are pleased that the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki people is working with the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources and others to develop plans for changes to the Hannah Duston Memorial in Boscawen. This project is an opportunity to create a more accurate and inclusive historical site that also honors the history of Abenaki people. And as Cowasuck band sag8moskwa, Denise Pouliot aptly puts it to help New Hampshire, quote, achieve a common past as direct descendants of Hannah Duston. We want our children, descendants themselves, to understand the historical context within which their ancestor lived, not just the Eurocentric version currently on display. They say: changes to the Boscawen site are long overdue. We look forward to supporting this project and again, that is signed by four people. That came in to me this morning. And Christine, I know we have to let you go. What do you make of that email by some of Dustin's descendants?

Christine DeLucia:
I think this is such an interesting moment full of opportunities. And some of the conversations we've been having is that this monument project can be a moment to build relationships. And that includes connections between native communities and Duston descendants, as well as Lennardsen and other colonial descendants to have some conversations, to be in shared spaces and talk through these really difficult pasts that continue to shape the present day. And if a monument can be a focal point, a gathering place to have those relationships begin to gel in ways that they have not before, I think that there is enormous potential there. And it gives me a kind of optimism about where we, as a collective, might go in trying to understand differences and also see a path forward that can be more accurate, more just. If I might say, as a closing thought. I was recently thinking a lot about the work by Amy Lonetree, who is a Ho-Chunk indigenous scholar of memory and museums, and she really urges people to tell the hard truths of history and to pursue this process of truth telling, because without that, it is extremely hard to map out a different kind of future. And I think that is a lot of the the impetus for this project. And I am so glad that there are people reaching out from many, many different places and sharing their views and being willing to sit down together, although virtually at this moment, and engage in this process of connecting.

Laura Knoy:
Well, Christine, it's been great to talk to you today. Thank you. That's Christine DeLucia, an assistant professor at Williams College specializing in history and native studies. Coming up, more of our conversation about rethinking Hannah Duston, both the story and the statue. Keep it right here. This is The Exchange on NHPR.

Laura Knoy:
This is The Exchange I'm Laura Knoy. This hour, we're asking how might the state's monument to Hannah Duston be reimagined to reflect the full story, not just of her captivity and bloody escape, but within the larger picture of a violent time in our history, the period often called the French and Indian Wars. With us now to talk about another project, working to honor and share a more inclusive history of the Abenaki people is Darryl Peasley. He's working on something called the Abenaki Trails Project. Dale, it's great to have you. Thanks for your time. What is the Abenaki Trail Project?

Darryl Peasley:
Well, the project is an initiative of the Nulhegan band of the Cowasuck Abenaki Nation. We want to create a series of educational or artistic installations at various sites around the state. The project will create a trail with maps and brochures that take you on an educational journey around the state, and the project will highlight historical Abenaki sites with factual firsthand accounts of interactions. And we hope to accentuate the positive contributions that we've made throughout colonial America and through today, because there are a number of us that are still here.

Laura Knoy:
That's really interesting. So we've been talking specifically about this Hannah Duston site, but where else might there be sort of major stops on this trail, Darryl, around the state?

Darryl Peasley:
Well, our first site will be in Coontoocook, the Hopkinton area. We're collaborating with the Hopkinton historical society, Lynn Clark of the Warner Historical Society, Dr. Robert Goodbee of Monadnock Archaeological Consulting. We have a number of tribal members that are working on this project. And also, we'd like to thank our chief, John Stevens, for his support in this project. It's not just going to be one, you know, one area of the state, we've already got towns that have asked us to work with them, so like I said, it will be a trail of educational areas. Not specific sites, because we don't want people going, digging up the ground, looking for artifacts, but each town has found different artifacts in different areas. And we want to share that with everybody,

Laura Knoy:
Yeah, I want to pick up on something you said, Daryl, remind people that we are here. How would this trail affect the way that many people in New England understand the history of this place, but also help them recognize that native people are still here?

Darryl Peasley:
Well, let's just take my hometown that I live in, the village of Contoocook. The Conntoocook River is an Abenaki word, recently translated to mean "place where the nut trees grow." But I guarantee you there are at least, oh, I'm going to I'm going to say 50 50 of the people that live in town know what's an Indian word, but they don't know what it means. And they have no clue that there are at least three different families of Native Americans living in their town.

Laura Knoy:
How much still has the pandemic affected your efforts to create this project?

Darryl Peasley:
Well, it's really, well, we've had our first meeting by Zoom. Not a real big fan of that, but, it's hard to share. Dr. Clark has a letter that she has found that gives a firsthand account of a captive. Other than copying it and sending it around to us, it's a delicate document, so you don't want to handle it too much, so you can't see it firsthand as of yet. I've been on a walk with Dr. Goodbee, and social distancing doesn't really work real well when you're trying to look at different structures or anomalies in the ground. So unfortunately, I was used as a scale object, so the pandemic is really put a damper on things. Well, we persevere.

Laura Knoy:
Well, Darryl, this is really interesting and we'll check back with you at some later date about how it's going. And hopefully the pandemic will be over and you'll have a chance to do more Hands-On work for now. I really appreciate you being with us.

Darryl Peasley:
All right. Well, thank you for having me. Take care.

Laura Knoy:
That's Darryl Peasley again, he's organizer of another project working to honor and describe a more inclusive history of the Abenaki people here in New Hampshire. And Denise and Meghan, lots of emails that I'd like to share with you now. And Robert wrote us to note another marker from 1837 in Concord. Robert says The Bradley Monument on Pleasant Street also has a one sided perspective. Is there discussions about contextual expansion of this site? Robert says the inscription, This monument is in memory of Samuel Bradley, Jonathan Bradley, Obadiah Peters, John Bean and John Lufkin, who were massacred on August 11th, 1746 by the Indians near this spot. Erected in 1837 by Richard Bradley, son of the Honorable John Bradley and grandson of Samuel Bradley. So, Denise, that's another marker. You mentioned this earlier in the show that says a massacre took place here without that bigger picture. I'd love your thoughts, Denise.

Denise Pouliot:
There are a lot of markers around the state that all encapsulize the same type of story. So one of the projects that we're doing with INHCC, which is the indigenous New Hampshire Collaborative Collective, which is a interdisciplinary group that has many professors and students from UNH. We're looking at all these markers so we can research and tell the greater story of these individual issues, these battles, these massacres, whatever the placard may say. So this is a project that has approached us and that we are currently working on.

Laura Knoy:
Wow. So that's in addition to the Hannah Duston project. Denise, you're working on adding more, adding a fuller perspective to these markers, because, as you said, there's a lot.

Denise Pouliot:
Absolutely. About three, almost four years ago, we started INHCC program with Professor Meghan Howie and Lana Peshkova over at UNH, and Alex Martin and numerous other professors. And our purpose was to decolonize and tell the expanded story of New Hampshire history. We firmly believe that in order for us to have a common future, we have to have a common past. And in order to have that common past, we need to be inclusive of all the stories that took place on these lands. And so addressing these highway markers is one of those ways of telling the full and complete story of the history here in New Hampshire.

Laura Knoy:
Really interesting. And that relates to an email that we got from Amy in Derry who says: One of the lessons we've learned over the past few months is that we have to reassess how we teach history at every level. How much time do we give to teaching American history? Amy says, When I taught English in New York City, students spent two years learning about global history, one year learning American history and a semester each of economics in American government. Amy says if we taught history accurately from the beginning, we wouldn't have to unteach it later. Really interesting. And my memory of my own history lessons were that we did a ton on the American Revolution and then all of a sudden it was, you know, the Great Depression. We kind of fast oh, and the Civil War. So what do you think about this, Meghan? The way that we sort of spend so much time on certain aspects of our history, which are really important, but other aspects do get kind of set aside. And then, as Amy says, we have to unteach this stuff later. Thank you, Amy, for writing. What do you think, Meghan?

Meghan Howey:
Yeah, that's a great point, Amy. And I think we were talking about that a little earlier in the show. And that's that un-teaching is part of that project that Denise just mentioned, making a story map to try to decolonize these sign marker's. It's always coming after, right? That's the problem we find ourselves in is, you know, even our project with Hannah Duston. We're trying to come now and quickly fix something that went awry a long time ago. So we do need to start at the beginning. But there's a lot of feels like a lot of, you know, bandaids, I guess you can say, to problems that started long before any of us got involved. So I definitely think, I say it again, decolonizing education has got to start early. And, you know, I think this idea of a separation too establishing the connection between global and American history, I mean, this was a global world we're talking about. There wasn't a unique American history and a unique global history. They're all interconnected. So I think we can think of broadening the way we divide curriculum and I mean I'm not an elementary or high school educator. By the time we get to the university level, I have more flexibility in how I can teach these things and talk about these things. But it is starting, it's unpacking a lot of preconceived ideas that we have to do once we're at the university level. And I would love to change. And like Denise mentioned, we have through INHCC been involved in trying to get into the schools in New Hampshire, trying to change the story in elementary schools. And it's a great question and a big task, you know.

Laura Knoy:
Well, I'm really glad that she mentioned it and that you mentioned it, Meghan, because it is important to see the French and Indian Wars, and I use that term just because that's a term people use recognizing the limitations. It was a global conflict in a way. It was European powers trying to sort of grab as much land as possible, right?

Meghan Howey:
Yeah, I think that I think that's what gets lost in some of these, if we're going back to the kind of colonial period, is this was really a global conflict. You're talking about two kind of big world powers at the time, the French and the British fighting and indigenous communities made choices in a very complex setting that were to their trying to survive. So it's really not we get to these stories of the Indians massacre, but they're they're being armed by the French. I mean, I think a lot of that gets lost, you know, that are coming to do these, quote unquote, massacres. I work on a famous massacre. I'm doing archaeology on these massacre sites, 1694, the Oyster River massacre. It's a pretty famous one in the state. And I'm excavating a British colonial homestead. But in that homestead, I have indigenous artefacts. Outside of the homestead I have evidence of indigenous occupation and interaction with that British family. So the story is actually that British families eating moose, which is very cool, which is something they had to learn from talking to native people about. So the story is so much more complicated when you get on the ground between people, human beings, interacting in ways that are not straightforward, that are not always violent, that are not always one-sided. So I think there's the local level and then there's the global level. We need to kind of tether between those when we think about this time period.

Laura Knoy:
And I have someone who emailed who wanted any suggestions for further reading. This woman, Beth says, I often ponder the many native place names we have in New Hampshire that have endured. I do want to let listeners know that we put a lot of resources on our website today for a further reading. But Denise, how would you answer that question? Just briefly? You know, this emailer, Beth, wants to know more,

Denise Pouliot:
Check out indigenous New Hampshire dot com, indigenousNH.com, that you'll find our interactive story map where we're discussing indigenous places, place names, villages, all different aspects of indigenous history. This has been an inclusive, collaborative project that we have been working on for nearly four years now. And we'd love to have people check out our web page or check out our Facebook page.

Laura Knoy:
And Denise, what's the status of this project? Again, to change the Hannah Duston site, to not bring the statue down, as you clarified earlier, but to reflect a broader, fuller history?

Denise Pouliot:
At this current moment, the state is in the process of convening a commission to oversee the park, the whole park project, and we look forward to moving together in a unified fashion.

Laura Knoy:
All right. Well, I want to thank both of you for being with us. Denise, thank you very much for your time. It was great to talk to you.

Denise Pouliot:
Thank you. Enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you for having me.

Laura Knoy:
That's Denise Pouliot of the Cowasuck band or the Pennacook Abenaki people. She is the Sag8moskwa or lead female speaker. Meghan Howey, it was really good to talk to you too. Thank you for your time. That's Meghan Howey, professor and chair of UNH's Anthropology Department.

Laura Knoy:
And we'll close out the show today with an email from Susan who says, "I was standing in a tiny ancestral cemetery in Canada with half a dozen distant relatives. One man mentioned that he was a direct descendant of Hanna Duston. Someone realized that another man there was a direct descendant of the native people involved in the conflicts. For the longest moment, Susan says, we all stood in stunned silence, broken only when one man said the past is in the past. This is now. The men embraced. We all remember it as a profound and healing experience." Susan, thank you very much for sharing that story. Thanks to everybody who participated today. You're listening to The Exchange on New Hampshire Public Radio.