A Place of Persistence: Eastern Pequot Reservation Archaeology

The Eastern Pequot emerged as a distinct Pequot community in the decades after the devastating Pequot War of 1636-1637 and secured a reservation in what is now North Stonington, Connecticut, in 1683. They have persisted on this land, one of the oldest reservations in the United States, as a culture, a community, and an Indigenous nation. Click here for an 88-minute video describing a collaborative relationship with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston to form the Eastern Pequot Archaeological Field School.

(Above) This presentation was jointly led by Stephen Silliman, professor of anthropology and director of the Eastern Pequot Archaeological Field School, and Natasha Gambrell, Eastern Pequot Tribal Councilor and participant in the field school since 2008. They discussed the nature of the collaborative work and how it functions to honor Eastern Pequot history and culture, in both the past and the present.

The program focuses on studying Eastern Pequot history from the 17th to 19th century and situating that history in the many thousands of years of Indigenous history in southern New England. The goal has been to advance their aim of historic and cultural preservation and their educational and community objectives.

The program also contributes to broader academic conversations and student training in Native American history, colonialism and its legacies, Indigenous culture linking past and present, and the role of community-based archaeology in bringing voices to the foreground that have been marginalized in the past. It involves university students and tribal members working together to honor, preserve, and draw power from land and from place. Summer 2022 marked the nineteenth year of the collaboration and the twelfth year of active archaeological fieldwork on the reservation.