Join us on Thursday, February 20th at 7PM to hear the archaeologist nicknamed "Connecticut's Indiana Jones" Nick Bellantoni, as he shares stories of history, archaeology and forensic science. As State Archaeologist, Bellantoni has assisted state and local police departments with investigations involving the discoveries of unmarked graves and homicides, most recently in a tough case of human remains in Vernon. Bellantoni's illustrious career of adventure and discovery gained him his nickname, "Connecticut's Indiana Jones." He asserts that the work is really about the importance of family and heritage, and the ability to overcome hardship and search for meaning in our lives. Bellantoni will share highlights from his timely account, "The Long Journeys Home: The Repatriations of Henry 'Opūkaha'ia and Albert Afraid of Hawk."
Bellantoni will tell of Henry ʻŌpūkahaʻia (c.1792-1818), a Native Hawaiian, and Itankusun Wanbli (c.1879-1900), an Oglala Lakota. Though they lived almost a century apart, the circumstances that led them to leave their homelands and eventually die in Connecticut have striking similarities.
ʻŌpūkahaʻia was orphaned during the turmoil of Kamehameha's wars-which was fueled by European interventions. He found passage on a ship to New England, where he was converted to Christianity, becoming the inspiration for later Christian missions in Hawai'i.
Itankusun Wanbli, Christianized as Albert Afraid of Hawk, performed in Buffalo Bill's "Wild West" to sustain himself after his traditional means of sustenance were taken by American settlers.
"The Long Journeys Home" chronicles these intergenerational stories as examples of the wide-reaching impact of colonization and European/American imperialism on the trajectory of Indigenous life in the new world. "These are deeply human stories," Bellantoni says. "They remind us of how our collective and individual heritages contribute to our sense of self-esteem and the quality of our lives."
Bellantoni's role in the excavations, his interaction with the two families, and his participation in the repatriation process of both men have given him unique insights into the significance of repatriation and the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, which was enacted in 1990. His natural storytelling abilities make the book a vivid and memorable read.
Bellantoni is an emeritus Connecticut State Archaeologist and an associate research professor in the Department of Anthropology in the University of Connecticut. He is the co-author of "In Remembrance: Archaeology and Death" and has also contributed to journals such as the Journal of Forensic Science, Journal of Archaeological Science and to the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. He earned his BA in anthropology at the Central Connecticut State University and his MA in anthropology at University of Connecticut.
Books will be available for signing and purchase.
The Racial Justice Book Group will be discussing the book on Tuesday, Feb 4th at 6PM. There are a limited number of copies for check out.
Questions: Christy Billings at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860.347.2528 EXT 160.