In Beyond Vacationland: the Native American Cape Cod Story
, photographer Matika Wilbur describes her 2015 encounter with Wampanoag and Narragansett tribal members in the region of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. We all know the story of these tribes welcoming the Puritans, only to be betrayed for their hospitality, but what interests me is the fact they carry a "unique burden of conscience" for everything that transpired afterward.
While it might not make logical sense for them to blame themselves as a people for being welcoming and generous, they nevertheless feel a "sense of complicity" in the horrific genocide that ensued.
Like other tribal peoples who struggle for cultural wholeness and identity in the face of globalization, the tribes of Cape Cod have a vital connection to place, that physical displacement from their homeland makes tenuous.
As non-tribal people are displaced today, due to the ramifications of venture capital, a possibility of empathy and understanding has arrived. Dispossessed of the ability to participate in cultural creation, due to this displacement that severs community ties, rent refugees become disconnected from American society in ways that can provide insight into what it means to be homeless in the greater sense of the word.
While modern states and international institutions still routinely annihilate tribal societies to expropriate their territories and resources, the American psyche--shattered by the tremors and upheavals of a civilization in collapse--can gain valuable perspective on displacement from people who have been coming to terms with this phenomenon for four hundred years.