Join John Kucich in conversation with Kristen Wyman, Brent Ranalli, James Francis, and Christopher Sockalexis as they discuss Thoreau and native peoples.
John J. Kucich is a professor of English at Bridgewater State University. He serves as the editor of The Concord Saunterer, the journal of the Thoreau Society. He is the author of Ghostly Communion: Cross-Cultural Spiritualism in 19th Century American Literature (Dartmouth, 2004) and several recent essays on the intersections between Native and European American cultures in the 18th and 19th centuries. His edited collection of essays, Rediscovering the Maine Woods: Thoreau’s Legacy in an Unsettled Land, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2019.
The wampum that Kristen Wyman creates honors the traditional use of the quahog shell and its powerful influence in New England history. Her art is relationship based and inspired by the network of ecological and social connections of Native peoples in the northeast. The ways she acquires, holds, and distributes wampum respects its traditional properties of good medicine and protection, as well as its power to transform and balance social relationships. Kristen harvests materials from the bays of Southern New England and, most often, the food derived from the shell is distributed to tribal families and community members in need.
Brent Ranalli is a policy professional and a humanities scholar whose research interests include the intersection between Thoreau’s fascination with Native American cultures and his general philosophy. His study of Thoreau’s supposed “Indian stride” has been published in the Thoreau Society Bulletin and the Concord Saunterer, and his essay on “Henry David Thoreau’s Lifelong Indian Play” will appear in the forthcoming Thoreau in an Age of Crisis: Uses and Abuses of an American Icon (Brill/Wilhelm Fink, 2021). Mr. Ranalli edits the Thoreau Society Bulletin.
James Francis is the tribal historian of the Penobscot Nation, where he has worked on a variety of projects exploring the relationship between the state of Maine and the Wabanaki peoples, including films, oral histories, museum exhibitions, and school curricula for the state department of education. He has written several articles on the Penobscot connection to the landscape.
Chris Sockalexis is the tribal historic preservation officer for the Penobscot Nation. He holds a degree in archaeology from the University of Maine. His work for the tribe takes him to significant cultural and historical sites across the state.
Brought to you by The Thoreau Society; sponsored by the Thoreau Farm Trust