Literature and Culture Author Conversations with Patricia Rubertone

The discussion with Brown University Professor of Anthropology Dr. Patricia Rubertone (below, right) was recorded on April 28, 2021, when she discussed her book, Native Providence: Memory, Community, & Survivance in the Northeast. Click here for the 75-minute interview on Zoom with Tomaquag Museum Executive Director Lorén Spears (below left).

Rubertone challenges the myth that cities, like Providence, don’t have Indigenous people, history or presence. Through extensive archival research, community conversations, and reflection on the urban landscape, she gives an account of Indigenous survivance and impacts of settler colonialism through the stories of the lives of intersecting tribal people.

In the book, Rubertone presents her research, including a map of Indigenous family locations throughout Providence from 1850 to 1950. A city of modest size, Providence, Rhode Island, had the third-largest Native American population in the United States by the first decade of the nineteenth century. Above, Brown University Native American and Indigenous Studies Program Executive Director Dr, Rae Gould poses a question during the Q&A.

Patricia E. Rubertone chronicles the survivance of the Native people who stayed, left and returned, who faced involuntary displacement by urban renewal, who lived in Provi­dence briefly, or who made their presence known both there and in the wider indigenous and settler-colonial worlds. These individuals reenvision the city’s past through everyday experiences and illuminate documentary and spatial tactics of inequality that erased Native people from most nineteenth- and early twentieth-century history.