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How do people confront a series of catastrophic and transformative events that threaten the very existence of their way of life? How does a culture survive a catastrophic epidemic that kills 80% of the population in two years followed by war, ecological collapse, and economic ruin? Then the survivors face a relentless and devastating cultural disintegration resulting in marginalization and even genocide. It is a perfect formula for a dystopian future only it actually happened 350 years ago. This is what the Quinnipiac people of Southern New England faced once the English colonization of their homeland, the Dawnland, began. Told through the eyes and voice of Ponaim, shaman of the People, the historical experience of the Quinnipiac during the first fifty years of the English colonization of their ancestral home during the 17th century comes glaringly to life. The result is a journey into the cultural and spiritual beliefs and practices of the Quinnipiac people and a way of life brought to the edge of extinction.

Following the deaths of his parents and sister from smallpox when it first struck in 1633, Ponaim as an orphan becomes an apprentice to Commossuck, the great shaman of the Quinnipiac. So begins the story of how Ponaim would assist and then follow in the footsteps of his mentor as they both struggle to restore the spiritual and physical balance to their world disrupted and threatened by the arrival of the English. As his people face the overwhelming challenges and dramatic changes brought by the colonists, Ponaim would never lose hope that somehow with the aid of the Spirit World, he might find a way for the Quinnipiac to survive. Shadows Over Dawnland is the story of the Quinnipiac struggle to survive the cultural and spiritual calamity that overwhelms them and might very well destroy their way of life, one that has existed for thousands of years. In the end, would Ponaim and the Quinnipiac be successful?

  • Paperback: 340 pages

  • Publisher: Beacon Publishing Group 

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-13:  978-1949472356

  • Category: General | Fiction

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About Author

James T. Powers first developed a life-long love of history while growing up in the old industrial town of Wallingford, Connecticut where he came to realize that the past was all around us and that by connecting to it we could come to better understand who we are.  Following graduation from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, James committed himself to a career of sharing that love through the teaching of history.


As an historian, archaeologist, lecturer, and educator for 40 years, throughout his career James has studied and taught about Early American history and Native American life and culture.  His interest in the Quinnipiac and his desire to share the story of the Quinnipiac experience has been furthered through his research while involved in the establishment of the Quinnipiac Dawnland Museum at the Dudley Farm Museum in Guilford, Ct. where he currently serves on the board of directors and is a founding member. James is also a student of Celtic and Native American Shamanism which has given him insights into how that belief system shapes the world view of the cultures where shamanism is practiced. 


Besides a BA, James has also received two MA’s from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. James is the author of four nonfiction books on topics associated with historical events and developments in Connecticut history; Saving the Farm; A Journey through Time, Place, and Redemption, Seeing the Past; Stories on the Trail of a Yankee Millwright, and the latest, On the Edge of Uncertainty; The Siege and Battles of Saybrook Fort during the Pequot War, 1636-1637. Ancient Wisdom, Modern Hope; Relearning Environmental Connectiveness will be released in November 2021.


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