Traditionally, Disability Was Not Seen as Such’: Writing and Healing in the Work of Mohegan Medicine People


The article traces representations of illness and disability in the writing of Mohegan medicine people from the eighteenth century to the present—from the missionary Samson Occom's herbal, which recorded indigenous remedies for imported diseases, to medicine woman Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel's speculative fiction, which portrays indigenous cultures accepting disability matter-of-factly. Mohegan writers have understood illness and disability as products of settler colonialism, both materially and discursively. In their writings about traditional ethnobotanical knowledge, they represent shifting indigenous responses to the colonial project of pathologizing indigenous bodies and nations. These responses include complicated strategies of disidentification with disability, as captured in Zobel's statement that "traditionally, disability was not seen as such."

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Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies


Liverpool University Press

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Copyright Liverpool University Press