In 2017, after a long reclamation battle, the Wampanoag ceremonially reinterred artifacts and remains associated with the seventeenth-century leader 8sâmeeqan (Ousamequin). Massasoit, the name widely used in histories and Thanksgiving pageants, was a title signifying 8sâmeeqan’s leadership role. A century earlier, a Euro-American fraternal order called the Improved Order of Red Men (IORM) commissioned a sculpture to commemorate the tricentennial of the pilgrims’ 1620 encounter with the Massasoit and his people.

As current controversies attest, “the urge to commemorate” is never a straightforward one. In this timely book, Lisa Blee and Jean M. O’Brien trace the creation and installation of the Massasoit memorial on Cole Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and its remarkable afterlife.

Monumental Mobility explores the “memory work” of public history: “how individuals and collectivities make meaning of the past as distinct from the concrete matter of what actually happened” (7). O’Brien brilliantly addressed these themes in her earlier...

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