Rethinking Place Conference: Land Narratives & Solidarity in the Archives

Friday, October 13, 2023

Zariah Calliste, Historical Studies student, Bard College
Frances Cathryn, editorial projects manager, Forge Project

This hourlong presentation covered two perspectives on a research project formed between Forge Project, a Native-led arts organization, and Bard College Rethinking Place initiative. The collaboration between the nascent arts space and academic institution hopes to uncover the history of the land in the surrounding region over time, how land and labor were exploited by the people who owned them, and how power functioned in these different environments, including the archives themselves.

Using as its starting point the moment of full displacement of the Moh-He-Con Nuck from their homelands (and partnering with the Stockbridge Munsee Community Cultural Affairs department to share these histories), Frances Cathryn and Zariah Calliste are working to produce a land “narrative” that will answer the question of the origin of the name New Forge Road where Forge Project is situated; namely, did an iron workshop exist in the area and did enslaved and/or indentured labor take place there?

Frances shared details on the formation of the project, and how Forge will work with the SMC to create a model for replicable research in the future. Zariah presented their findings in their research, and how, more importantly, they have built relationships with librarians and archivists to produce this work. Through this collaborative process, Frances and Zariah have formed a network to “liberate” knowledges and histories so often gatekept by colonial institutions and its infrastructures.

Video by Mariia Pankova.