Awikhigan is an Abenaki word that originally referred to writing on birchbark but has evolved to include bound books, letters, and maps. In her Fellowship project, Lisa Brooks will push the meaning further still, to encompass digital storytelling that explores the multiple narratives that make up history.
Brooks will collaborate with teachers, students, and tribal historians to build an educational website about King Philip’s War, a seminal colonial event that transformed 17th-century America and proportionally the bloodiest war in our history. She will guide users through the complex historical geography of this sprawling conflict with an array of primary sources. While bringing to life the best-known aspects of the war, the site will emphasize stories not often covered in secondary schools, such as the role of Weetamoo, a female Wampanoag leader who was at least as powerful as King Philip himself and as decisive in the course of the war. Interactive digital maps will enliven the narrative by tracing historic trails and waterways, Native towns and territories, colonial settlements, and crucial sites of refuge and subsistence. To ensure the site succeeds both in and out of the classroom, Brooks will pilot and refine it with educators, the Five College Partnership Program, and two non-profits, Primary Source and Gedakina.
As a leading scholar of Native American studies, Brooks draws upon Abenaki culture to reexamine the past from new viewpoints. She is also deeply committed to public scholarship, and she has consulted for a host of historical societies and museums. With her Fellowship project, she will empower students and the public to better understand the Native histories and places that are embedded within “New England.”