For Immediate Release

Visible Language Series Lecture: Adopting and Adapting Writing in Native Nations of the Northeast

(Cambridge, February 28, 2011) Early Native American writers are often portrayed as defying the colonial world and struggling to exist within it. In striking counterpoint, Lisa Brooks demonstrates the ways in which Native leaders adopted writing as a tool to reclaim rights and land in the northeastern United States.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology presents the illustrated talk, "Adopting and Adapting Writing in Native Nations of the Northeast" on Thursday, March 24, 2011 at Harvard's Geological Lecture Hall (24 Oxford St.). It is part of the Peabody Museum's year-long Visible Language lecture series. A public reception will follow at the Peabody Museum.

Reframing the historical landscape of the region, Brooks constructs a provocative new picture of Native space before and after colonization. By recovering and reexamining Algonquian and Iroquoian texts, she shows that writing was not a foreign technology. Instead, it was a crucial weapon in the Native Americans' arsenal as they resisted colonial domination and continue to oppose it today.

Lisa Brooks is an Assistant Professor of History and Literature and of Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University.

About the Peabody Museum
The Peabody Museum is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. It is home to superb materials from Africa, ancient Europe, North America, Mesoamerica, Oceania, and South America in particular. In addition to its archaeological and ethnographic holdings, the Museum’s photographic archives, one of the largest of its kind, hold more than 500,000 historical photographs, dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and chronicling anthropology, archaeology, and world culture.

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Montagnais birchbark scroll with writing in French. PM 94-38-10/52507 N5423. This image shows the adaptation of forms of writing and mapmaking, with the Montagnais' use of French script and the drawing of both Christian and woodland imagery on a birchbark scroll. This was a message directed to their priest.

High resolution image available on request.

Thursday, March 24, 2011: "Adopting and Adapting Writing in Native Nations of the Northeast"

Lisa Brooks, Assistant Professor of History and Literature and of Folklore and Mythology, Harvard University

5:30 PM Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge, followed by a public reception at the Peabody Museum, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge


Information: 617-496-1027 or

See more about the Visible Language series.