Until 1963, a forty-ton, petroglyph-covered boulder nicknamed Dighton Rock sat on the eastern shore of the Taunton River in Berkley, Massachusetts, a small town south of Boston. That year, dam construction required its removal to safer ground. Its preservation was important for at least two reasons—its obvious connection to the early colonists but also to the mystery that surrounds the origin of the petroglyphs. Scholars from numerous fields, as well as a fair number of amateur sleuths, have debated the petroglyphs’ origins for more than 300 years.

Hunter uses Dighton Rock to explain the role of indigenous peoples in relation to a traditional backdrop of colonization, folklore, and archaeology against which indigenous peoples can be mischaracterized until they disappear. Hunter goes into great detail examining how the disputes about Dighton Rock have functioned to answer two questions: Who belongs in America, and to whom does America belong?

In 1680, when...

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