The Center for the Humanities at UNH has received two grants that will help advance projects related to celebrating the history of BIPOC populations in New Hampshire.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has awarded the center a $50,000 grant from its Telling the Full History Preservation Fund, and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) has given the center a $135,000 Sustaining Public Engagement Grant.
The grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation will help create “Homelands: An Augmented Reality App Interpreting Indigenous Heritage in New Hampshire,” a project set to be undertaken in collaboration with the Indigenous New Hampshire Collaborative Collective (INHCC) and Film Unbound (the latter of which will create the app).
The ACLS grant will support a project focused on “BIPOC Monumentality in New Hampshire” in collaboration with the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire (BHTNH) and the INHCC.
Both projects will be led by SvetLana Peshkova, associate professor in the department of anthropology, and Stephen Trzaskoma, director of The Center for the Humanities and professor of classics. Peshkova will serve as principal investigator on the Homelands project, with Trzaskoma acting as co-principal investigator, and the two will flip roles on the BIPOC Monumentality project.
Project leader SvetLana Peshkova (back row, sixth from left) and lead team members/consultants Alexandra Martin (back row, seventh from left), Paul Pouliot (back row, fourth from left), and Denise Pouliot (back row, fifth from left), with “co-conspirators” in the Indigenous New Hampshire Collaborative Collective. (Courtesy photo)
“The Center for the Humanities is proud to be undertaking these two projects, working alongside the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire and the Indigenous New Hampshire Collaborative Collective,” Trzaskoma says. “The grants are both a recognition of the incredible humanities-based work that community partners and UNH faculty, staff and students collaborate on, as well as a way for us to secure resources to do even more of it. We are particularly pleased that the funding will help increase the visibility and accessibility for all New Hampshire residents of the important but often unrecognized culture and history of the state as it relates to Indigenous and Black communities.”
The Homelands project will create augmented reality overlays for three sites – Strawbery Banke Museum, Odiorne Point and Star Island – and will consist of animations of indigenous lifeways (such as wigwams, fishing, foraging, hunting, etc.) and interpretive educational text informed by INHCC’s own Storymap that will populate the landscape when viewed through the Homelands App on a mobile device.
The grant is one of 80 given to select organizations nationwide to support projects that help preserve, interpret and activate historic places to tell the stories of underrepresented groups in our nation.
“As New Hampshire approaches the 400th anniversary of the European colonial settlement in this part of North America, we, to a large extent, remain uninformed about Indigenous heritage, which in many cases was intentionally erased,” Peshkova says. “This app will help us to continue working toward expanding local knowledge about historical and contemporary life-ways of Indigenous communities in the region."
“BIPOC Monumentality in New Hampshire” lead team member JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire (middle right), at the unveiling of the Pomp and Candace Spring marker in Portsmouth in November 2021. (courtesy photo)
The aim of the “BIPOC Monumentality in New Hampshire” endeavor is to revitalize projects shared by UNH, BHTNH and INHCC that have suffered setbacks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years. “These projects center on a variety of monuments and related activities in the state of New Hampshire devoted to the history and cultural presence of underrepresented communities and include markers, story maps, land connections and conversations,” according to the announcement on the ALCS website announcing the grant.
“Although the markers, maps and virtual realities created through these two projects will help us acknowledge the fuller historical reality of physical sites, our work aims not solely to commemorate the past but also to honor the ongoing presence of underrepresented communities in New Hampshire, bringing their experiences, knowledge and resiliency to bear in the context of conversations about our shared future,” Trzaskoma says.