Winter Speaker Series: Jean M. O’Brien
“Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England” with Jean M. O’Brien
"Firsting and Lasting" argues that local histories became a primary means by which European Americans asserted their own modernity while denying it to Indian peoples. Drawing on more than six hundred local histories from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, Jean M. O’Brien explores how these narratives inculcated the myth of Indian extinction, a myth that has stubbornly remained in the American consciousness.
Jean M. O’Brien (White Earth Ojibwe) is Distinguished McKnight University Professor of History at the University of Minnesota. In addition to numerous articles and book chapters, O’Brien is the author of Monumental Mobility: The Memory Work of Massasoit (with Lisa Blee, North Carolina, 2019), Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England (Minnesota, 2010), Dispossession by Degrees: Indian Land and Identity in Natick, Massachusetts, 1650-1790 (Cambridge and Nebraska, 1997 and 2003), and more. She is a co-founder and Past President of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and inaugural co-editor (with Robert Warrior) of the association’s journal, Native American and Indigenous Studies. She has won numerous fellowships and awards in support of her work, including the American Indian History Lifetime Achievement Award for 2014 from the Western History Association, and is an elected member of the Society of American Historians.