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Monumental Mobility: The Memory Work of Massasoit

Lisa Blee Jean M. O'Brien



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The University of North Carolina Press
18 March 2019
Memorials, monuments; History; History of the Americas; Indigenous peoples
Installed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1921 to commemorate the tercentenary of the landing of the Pilgrims, Cyrus Dallin's statue Massasoit was intended to memorialize the Pokanoket Massasoit (leader) as a welcoming diplomat and participant in the mythical first Thanksgiving. But after the statue's unveiling, Massasoit began to move and proliferate in ways one would not expect of generally stationary monuments tethered to place. The plaster model was donated to the artist's home state of Utah and prominently displayed in the state capitol; half a century later, it was caught up in a surprising case of fraud in the fine arts market. Versions of the statue now stand on Brigham Young University's campus; at an urban intersection in Kansas City, Missouri; and in countless homes around the world in the form of souvenir statuettes.

As Lisa Blee and Jean M. O'Brien show in this thought-provoking book, the surprising story of this monumental statue reveals much about the process of creating, commodifying, and reinforcing the historical memory of Indigenous people. Dallin's statue, set alongside the historical memory of the actual Massasoit and his mythic collaboration with the Pilgrims, shows otherwise hidden dimensions of American memorial culture: an elasticity of historical imagination, a tight-knit relationship between consumption and commemoration, and the twin impulses to sanitize and grapple with the meaning of settler-colonialism.
By:   Lisa Blee, Jean M. O'Brien
Imprint:   The University of North Carolina Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 155mm, 
ISBN:   9781469648392
ISBN 10:   1469648393
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   18 March 2019
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Lisa Blee is associate professor of history at Wake Forest University. Jean M. O'Brien (White Earth Ojibwe) is the Distinguished McKnight University Professor of History at the University of Minnesota.

Reviews for Monumental Mobility: The Memory Work of Massasoit

A welcome addition to the historiography of memory and a growing list of books focused on Indigenous monuments. Moreover, the authors' extensive work tracing the many lives of Massasoit exhibits how difficult it is to fix the meaning of an object even after it is rendered in stone.--Western Historical Quarterly The book documents the fascinating continental 'travels' of a statue of the Wampanoag leader Massasoit, installed in 1921 at Plymouth, Ma., to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrims' arrival . . . This is an object lesson in the commodification of Native American memory.--Choice Reviews

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