New Book Talk: Dr. Patricia E. Rubertone, Ph.D., "Native Providence: Memory, Community, and Survivance in the Northeast"





CSREA’s New Book series highlights new and notable work in the study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity from scholars both internal and external to Brown. The aim is to facilitate thought-provoking and critical engagement with emerging scholarship that better helps us to understand how we study, research, and engage with studies of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity.


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 twentieth 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. Her research navigates the intersections of anthropology (archaeology and ethnography) and history to study Indigenous and settler colonial communities, landscapes, and memories in Native North America, especially the Northeast. She is the author of Grave Undertakings: An Archaeology of Roger Williams and the Narragansett Indians (Smithsonian, 2001) and the editor of Archaeologies of Placemaking: Monuments, Memories, and Engagement in Native North America (One World Archaeology Series 59, Left Coast Press, Inc., 2008). Among her other publications are articles that explore approaches that braid together different methodologies for building stronger understandings of Indigenous peoples’ colonial experiences past and present, their complicated relationships with colonialist monuments, and their modernity and futurity. Her recent book, Native Providence: Memory, Community, and Survivance in the Northeast, was published by the University of Nebraska Press, December 2020.