Census Making, and Indian Erasure in New England with Jason Mancini

By the end of the American Revolution, southern New England’s Indian population had essentially been declared extinct through popular literature and prevailing opinion. At the same time, there were nearly 4,500 Indians documented in census records in southern New England, 50 percent of whom lived in nonreservation English towns. Mancini has used ethnogeography as an analytic tool for exposing colonial epistemologies and discourse about Indian “disappearance” and elucidating hidden Indian histories in southern New England. A presentation drawing from the Ezra Stiles Papers by Jason Mancini can be seen by clicking here.

Native Tribes that once occupied all of New England were displaced as more land was acquired for colonial settlement and farming not only along the coast but also inland. This displacement resulted in declining populations in the 18th century.

Drawing from the Ezra Stiles Papers, Mancini’s work uses census records to illustrate major population trends as tribal land dispossession and changing notions of tribal citizenship reshaped Indian communities on and off the reservations during the colonial period. (Above) 18th Century maps of Connecticut show how Native people were counted more accurately as time went on.

Michael Moranci (left) introduces speaker Jason Mancini, the Executive Director of CT Humanities. Mancini was previously the Executive Director of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, and was with the museum in different capacities from 1995 to 2017. He is a lifelong Connecticut resident. Mancini has a Ph.D., as well as an M.A., in Anthropology from the University of Connecticut.