cover image

Native Providence

Memory, Community, and Survivance in the Northeast

Patricia E. Rubertone

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 12/2020
Pages: 468
Subject: Social Science
eBook ISBN: 9781496223999


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. Native Providence tells their stories at this historical moment and in the decades before and after, a time when European Americans claimed that Northeast Natives had mostly vanished. Denied their rightful place in modernity, men, women, and children from Narragansett, Nipmuc, Pequot, Wampanoag, and other ancestral communities traveled diverse and complicated routes to make their homes in this city. They found each other, carved out livelihoods, and created neighborhoods that became their urban homelands—new places of meaningful attachments. Accounts of individual lives and family histories emerge from historical and anthropological research in archives, government offices, historical societies, libraries, and museums and from community memories, geography, and landscape. 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.  


Patricia E. Rubertone is a professor of anthropology at Brown University. She is the author of Archaeologies of Placemaking: Monuments, Memories, and Engagement in Native North America and Grave Undertakings: An Archaeology of Roger Williams and the Narragansett Indians.


"Patricia Rubertone deftly undermines the myth that cities don't have indigenous histories or presents, and she challenges the notion that Native people whose homelands are often called 'New England' have disappeared. Through painstaking archival research, conversations with community members, and attention to the local landscape, Rubertone has produced a readable and usefully disorienting account of one historic city's encounter with both settler colonialism and indigenous survivance."—Coll Thrush, author of Indigenous London: Native Travellers at the Heart of Empire

"Native Providence is a magnificently grounded, humane study of indigenous resilience and adaptation. It recovers the complexities and contradictions of Native individuals and families who worked to make the city their own place and navigated the pressures and exclusions of settler colonialism to create their own forward-looking modernities. It places Native people and voices at the center and in doing so provocatively reorients us to a seemingly familiar city."—Christine M. DeLucia, author of Memory Lands: King Philip's War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast

"This is the best treatment of the urban experiences of Indians in New England to date and a model of historical recovery for the broader, burgeoning subfield of urban Indian studies."—David J. Silverman, author of This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving