Remembering Race at Brown

Inspired by Brown’s 250th anniversary, the sophomore seminar Race and Remembering collaborated to critically examine race at Brown University. This digital exhibit highlights University legacies of erasure and histories of resistance. This is a call to REMEMBER.

Author: Phoebe E Young

Additional Readings

Below is a list of recommended readings to learn more about early colonization of Rhode Island and New England, public memory and Narragansett presence in Rhode Island, the enslavement of New England Native Americans, and other aspects of colonization of Native peoples in and around Brown University:

“The Memory Frontier: Uncommon Pursuits of Past and Place in the Northeast after King Philip’s War” in The Journal of American History by Christine DeLucia, 2012.

Tomaquag Museum

A Key into the Language of America by Roger Williams, 1643.

Grave Undertakings by Patricia E. Rubertone, 2001.

After King Philip’s War: Presence and Persistence in Indian New England, Collin G. Calloway, 1997.

“Pauper Apprenticeship in Narragansett Country: A Different Name for Slavery in Early New England,” in Slavery/Anti-Slavery in New England by Ruth Wallis Herndon and Ella Wilcox Sekatau, 2005.

Steering Committee Report on Slavery and Justice at Brown University.

“The Right to a Name: The Narragansett People and Rhode Island Officials in the Revolutionary Era,” in After King Philip’s War: Presence and Persistence in Indian New England, Ruth Wallis Herndon and Ella Wilcox Sekatau, 1997.

Indian Slavery in Colonial Times by Almon Wheeler, 1913.

Indian Slavery in Colonial America by Alan Gallay, 2009.

Shadows at Dawn by Karl Jacoby, 2012.

Works Cited

 The Charter of Brown University:

http://goo.gl/M7K9lW

The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice:

http://www.brown.edu/initiatives/slavery-and-justice/

Steering Committee Report on Slavery and Justice at Brown University:

http://goo.gl/lDPG6t 

Grave Undertakings: Roger Williams and the NarragansettIndians. By Patricia E. Rubertone. London and Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001.

 

Charter of The College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations by Ezra.Stiles. Providence, 1764.

“About Brown’s 250th,” Imagine Brown 250+, http://250.brown.edu/about-brown-250

            “The state of Rhode Island from the latest surveys B. Tannner, delt. &

sculpt.” by Benjamin Tanner. New York: John Reid 1796.

http://goo.gl/A3EapO

            “A Map of New-England, Being the first that ever was here cut…” William Hubbard, 1677. London: Tho Parkhurst.

http://goo.gl/2OJ5EH

“A Map of ye English empire in ye continent of America viz Virginia, Maryland, Carolina, New York, New Iarsey, New England, Pennsilvania” by Richard Daniel and Walter Binneman. London: Sold by R. Morden at ye Atlas in Cornhill near ye royal Exchange, 1685.

http://goo.gl/V2F3ej

            “A Map of New England New Yorke New Iersey Mary-Land & Virgina” by Gregory King. London: Sould by Robert Morden at ye Atlas…and by William Berry at ye Globe, 1676.

http://goo.gl/pO93bD

Lost Anniversaries on Brown’s 250th

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These acts are part of a larger practice of colonization that has silenced the violent legacies of its origins. The institutional silence around these legacies continues today. Brown’s 250th Anniversary website invites readers “to pause…to reflect, to honor our founders, to recognize the women and men who shaped the Brown of today…”[1] yet it says nothing about who came before Brown’s founders or the original inhabitants of the land Brown stands on today.

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[1] “About Brown’s 250th,” Imagine Brown 250+, http://250.brown.edu/about-brown-250, (November 2, 2014)

Erasing the Past: Rhode Island Maps of the 18th Century

  1796: The same territory is now Washington County. Narragansett territory has been geographically erased, a demonstration of the ambivalence towards New England Natives after King Philip’s War–the last major regional war between colonists and Natives and one of the bloodiest conflicts in American history. he war ended around 1676 when King Philip, the Wampanoag chief known as Metacomet, was beheaded by Captain Benjamin Church.

 

“The state of Rhode Island from the latest surveys B. Tannner, delt. &sculpt.” by Benjamin Tanner. New York: John Reid 1796. Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library

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Narragansett Territory in 17th Century Rhode Island

This historical omission also appears in the geographical erasure of Narragansett territories from the maps of Rhode Island. Three seventeenth-century maps of the territory surrounding Providence indicate Narragansett territory near Plymouth colony and Providence:

“A Map of ye English empire in ye continent of America viz Virginia, Maryland, Carolina, New York, New Iarsey, New England, Pennsilvania” by Richard Daniel and Walter Binneman. London: Sold by R. Morden at ye Atlas in Cornhill near ye royal Exchange, 1685. From the John Carter Brown Library.

“A Map of New England New Yorke New Iersey Mary-Land & Virgina” by Gregory King. London: Sould by Robert Morden at ye Atlas…and by William Berry at ye Globe, 1676. From the John Carter Brown Library.

“A Map of New-England, Being the first that ever was here cut…” William Hubbard, 1677. London: Tho Parkhurst. From the John Carter Brown Library

 

These seventeenth-century maps show Narragansett territory just south of Pawtucket River. Two mention an “Indian fort” or “Swampfort,” suggesting that this area may have been politically or militaristically significant territory to either Narragansetts or colonists at the time.

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Narrative

 

“Which said piece of land contains about four acres, and became the property of us, said Moses and John Brown, by a deed of bargain and sale from …the present grantor’s great-grandfather, who received it by descent from his father Chad Brown, who was one of the original proprietors after the native Indians of whom it was purchased….” 

                                           -The Charter of Brown University, 1765

 

At the moment of Brown’s founding, the history of colonial violence and forced displacement of the Narragansett Native Americans was forgotten by the University. Continue reading

“Which said piece of land contains about four acres, and became the property of us, said Moses and John Brown, by a deed of bargain and sale from …the present grantor’s great-grandfather, who received it by descent from his father Chad Brown, who was one of the original proprietors after the native Indians of whom it was purchased….” 

                                           -The Charter of Brown University, 1765

 

  Enter the Narrative→