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A Native American Legend and the New England Landscape Subject of Guest Lecture

Historian Karen Halttunen will deliver a lecture titled, "Chocorua's Curse: Indians, Native Place, and the Making of the New England Landscape," on Thursday, April 9 at 11 a.m. at Pomona College. In her talk, Halttunen will explore a legend about the death of a Native American and the subsequent poisoning of the water supply in New Hampshire.

In the legend, Chocurua, a former chieftain of the Abenaki people, returned from a trip to find his son had died, after accidentally drinking poison that a white settler, Campbell, concocted to kill a fox. Enraged, Chocorua killed the settler’s wife and children. In turn, Campbell chased and shot Chocurua at the top of the Sandwich Range of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Before dying, Chocorua cursed Campbell and the other settlers. In the story, his curse poisoned the water supply of several towns in the mountain range, and their cattle died as a result of drinking it.

Halttunen is a professor of U.S. cultural and intellectual history at USC, and her current work is on landscape and antiquity in 19th century New England. Most recently, she authored Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the Gothic Imagination (1998) and Moral Problems in American Life: New Essays on Cultural History (1998); and she edited A Companion to American Cultural History (2008).

She was awarded the Huntington Library Research Fellowship and Los Angeles Times Distinguished Fellowship (2006-2007); was president of the American Studies Association (2005-2006); honored with the Roland Marchand Memorial Award for Excellence in Service to K-12 Teachers (2003); and a recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (1983-1984).

This talk will be held in Pomona College’s Rose Hills Theatre (Smith Campus Center, 170 E. 6th St., Claremont). This event is part of the Hart Institute for American History series, "The Environment and American Society." For further information, call: (909) 607-9435.

The Hart Institute for American History was established at Pomona College in 2000. The institute’s purpose is to ground the study of broad and abiding themes in American history in the close reading of primary documents, a term defined broadly to include such sources as photographs, music, material culture, and literary works, as well as traditional historical sources.