In Search of New England's Native Past
Selected Essays by Gordon M. Day
A selection of core essays by one of the pioneers of Native American studies
This volume highlights the work of the late Gordon M. Day, renowned for his groundbreaking research on the history and culture of the Western Abenakis and their Indian neighbors. Where previous historians had tended to portray northern New England as an area largely devoid of aboriginal peoples, Day established beyond all doubt the presence of Abenaki settlements along the eastern shore of Lake Champlain as well as the upper reaches of the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers.
For nearly three decades, Day focused his work on the community of Saint Francis, or Odanak, in Quebec, to which Abenaki refugees from interior New England had fled, beginning in the mid-seventeenth century and continuing into the nineteenth. Drawing on t he methods of several disciplines, including ethnology, linguistics, and ethnohistory, he synthesized data from fragmentary historical records, oral traditions, and place names to reconstruct a world assumed to be lost.
"Not only did Day 'pioneer' a new field, but his publications remain basic sources today for anyone at all interested in this field. His articles are superb examples of ethnohistoric methodology. . . . I would add that Day's prose is an absolute pleasure to read."—William A. Haviland, author of The Original Vermonters: Native Inhabitants Past and Present
"These essays confirm the astonishing breadth of Day's interest and scholarship and the meticulous, disciplined way he conducted research and wrote. Before Day began his work, scholars knew virtually nothing about the Western Abenakis and the Indian history of northwestern New England. This volume has the virtue of pulling together his most important pieces."—Neal Salisbury, author of Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of New England, 1500–1643
"Gordon Day's passionate engagement with New England's Indian cultures took the form not of uncritical sentimentality, but profound respect and disciplined understanding. His careful scholarship displays those quiet qualities without ever hiding his sustained admiration for Native people and their complex pasts and presents."—James Axtell, author of The Invasion Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America