Join Oak Park native and author Ian Saxine to learn a fascinating history of a contested frontier, where struggles over landownership brought Native Americans and English colonists together in surprising ways to preserve Indigenous territory.
Saxine’s book, Properties of Empire: Indians, Colonist and Land Speculators on the New England Frontier shows the dynamic relationship between Native and English systems of property on the turbulent edge of Britain’s empire. Learn how so many colonists came to believe their prosperity depended on acknowledging Indigenous land rights.
As absentee land speculators and hardscrabble colonists squabbled over conflicting visions for the frontier, Wabanaki Indians’ unity allowed them to forcefully project their own interpretations of often poorly remembered old land deeds and treaties. The result was the creation of a system of property in Maine that defied English law, and preserved Native power and territory. Eventually, ordinary colonists, dissident speculators, and grasping officials succeeded in undermining and finally destroying this arrangement, a process that took place in councils and courtrooms, in taverns and treaties, and on battlefields.
Ian Saxine grew up in Oak Park and is a graduate of Oak Park-River Forest High School and Northwestern University. Saxine now works as Assistant Professor of History at Bridgewater State University. His writing has previously appeared in the New England Quarterly, winning the 2013 Whitehill Prize in Early American History.