I would like to clarify a statement published in the NRI NOW article Archaic treasure: Burrillville woman finds millenniums-old artifact on Sweet’s Hill.
In the piece, finder Roberta Lacey states “history doesn’t go back as far as this stone.”
As an anthropologist, I find this statement about the bannerstone’s age alarming. In fact, the history of indigenous people of the northeast goes back at least 12,000 years.
I understand she had been in touch with Tim Ives at RIHPHC about the date of the object. I’ve worked closely with tribal officials over the last 15 years and I teach various courses about indigenous history and culture to university students.
I’ve found it challenging for non-native folks, especially here in the northeast, to realize that there are still modern native communities and tribes — and that they had thriving, organized communities before Europeans arrived and maintained many traditions and lifeways over the last several hundred years. Part of this is due to the efforts of lawmakers and publishers in the past, like James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans, but I think we need to be cognizant of the facts regarding indigenous peoples as well so that we don’t anchor indigenous culture in some prehistoric past that we are now divorced from.
Alexandra Martin is a faculty fellow for the Anthropology Department at the University of New Hampshire and core faculty with a Native American and Indigenous Studies Minor