Ghost River: Decolonization through Artistic Reinterpretation


Date(s) - 10/07/2020
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm


Co-sponsored by the American Social History Project.

We have closed online registration for this event. If you would still like to attend, please email us at publicslab@gc.cuny.edu.

Ghost River: The Fall and Rise of the Conestoga (Red Planet Books and Comics, 2019) is a graphic novel about the Paxton massacres of 1763. However, as the title suggests, the Paxton vigilantes associated with this tragedy are peripheral to this story. This volume introduces new interpreters and new forms of evidence in order to foreground Indigenous victims, survivors, and kin in ways that colonial printed records – with their focus on colonial elites – cannot do alone. Written, illustrated, and published by Native partners, Ghost River confronts challenges that accompany studies of colonial America. How can we tell difficult stories that don’t reproduce past assumptions? Can we recollect tragedy without eulogizing it? And how can acts of artistic reinterpretation reveal the fluidity of history, memory, and collective mythology?

In a roundtable conversation, artist Weshoyot Avlitre (Tongva), author Dr. Lee Francis IV (Pueblo of Laguna), and editor Dr. Will Fenton will discuss the scholarly and creative collaboration behind this project, and how artistic reinterpretation of colonial records enabled the team to create imagine a narrative that re-centers the Indigenous past and present in studies of colonial America.

Explore GhostRiver.org

Watch the Documentary

Read the Digital Edition

Space is limited. Please reserve your spot by booking in the RSVP section below. Zoom details will be sent closer to the event.

Weshoyot Alvitre is a Tongva/Scots comic book artist and illustrator whose work primarily is used to explore story through sequential art media. Known for her panel to panel narratives, Weshoyot focuses on the emotional impacts of historical events and current responses to politics, lending a human element to linear storytelling. Her work gives voice to the under-represented storylines of present, future, and past indigenous voices. Weshoyot served as the artist of Ghost River, and her art was featured in an eponymous exhibition at the Library Company of Philadelphia (November 15, 2019-August 31, 2020).



Dr. Lee Francis, IV (Pueblo of Laguna) is the CEO and Founder of Native Realities LLC, an Indigenous Imagination Company, dedicated to unleashing the Indigenous imagination through popular culture, including comic books, graphic novels, games, toys, and collectibles. Founded in 2015, Native Realities has published the largest assortment of Indigenous-centric comic books in the world. Through Native Realities Lee also founded the Indigenous Comic Con in 2016 and opened Red Planet Books and Comics, the only Native comic shop in the world, in 2017. Lee served as the author and publisher of Ghost River.



Dr. William D. Fenton is the Director of Research and Public Programs at the Library Company of Philadelphia. He earned his Ph.D. from Fordham University in August 2018 (Department of English). Will specializes in early American literature and the digital humanities, for which he has received numerous scholarships, fellowships, and awards. His digital humanities project Digital Paxton, served as the foundation of the Ghost River project. Will served as the creative director and project manager of the project, editor of the Ghost River volume, and curator of the eponymous exhibition at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

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