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Wilbert H. Ahern Distinguished Lecture

Jean M. O’Brien delivered the inaugural Wilbert H. Ahern Distinguished Lecture in American Indian Studies in 2013. O’Brien is White Earth Ojibwe and a professor of history at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where she is also affiliated with the American Indian Studies and American Studies Departments. Her lecture was based on her latest book and was entitled, “Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England.”

O’Brien argued that early colonial histories became a primary means by which Anglo-Saxon Americans asserted their own modernity while denying it to Indian peoples. Drawing on more than six hundred local histories from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, the lecture explored how these narratives advanced the myth of Indian extinction, a myth that has stubbornly remained in the American consciousness.