Mashantucket Pequot Museum Library and Archives Blog

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Smoke Signals

A group of 11 enthusiastic readers attended the Research Library’s discussion of Sherman Alexie’s Smoke Signals: A Screenplay on Saturday, November 19. Led by former MPMRC Public Programs Director, theater director, and dramaturge Betsy Theobald Richards, the group talked about the ways in which the author developed the story (originally featured as a short story in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven) into a screenplay for film. The group shared their thoughts about Alexie’s portrayal of life on and off the Coeur d’Alene Indian reservation and the humorous, sometimes poignant, ways he depicts the main characters, Victor and Junior, as they leave the reservation and face challenges and prejudices in the outside white world, what one character describes as a “foreign country.” Betsy further explored how Alexie developed his character(s), revealing a sense of underlying humanity within scenes of complex and conflicted emotions and the power of forgiveness. Following the discussion, participants viewed the film in the Museum Auditorium.

If you’re sorry that you missed this book/film discussion, please consider coming to the debut of our Meet the Author series on Jan. 21, 2012. Larry Spotted Crow Mann (Nipmuc) talks about his book, Tales from the Whispering Basket. And on March 31, visit with Granny Squannit, Joan Tavares Avant (Mashpee Wampanoag) as she talks about her book, People of the First Light. More information about these free talks will be posted soon!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fresh Eyes in the Archives

Online access opens the doors of archives all over the world to armchair travellers and researchers. But, as more than 40 students who visited our Archives in the past month have found, the “real thing” can transport us to another time and place in a way that digital surrogates may not.

Visiting high school students brought keen eyes and a fresh perspective to documents such as an 18th century contract, in which a Shinnecock mother agrees to offer her son as an indentured servant when he reaches the age of six. Deciphering handwriting from 1755 and imagining the context and environment in which it was written made students feel like “detectives.”

After visiting a replica of Martha Hoxie “Matt” Langevin’s home in the Musuem, students “heard” the perseverance in her voice in the Archives, as they read some letters she wrote in the 1920s. Matt Langevin was a Mashantucket Pequot Tribal member and a beloved inspiration to subsequent generations of Pequots returning to the land.

Experienced and novice researchers alike are welcome in our Archives. Their visits provide a learning experience for both patron and archivist – and sometimes inspire the archivist to write some lyrics…

Pardon me miss, but I’ve never done this with a Real Live Page.
I’ve been on line but this is my first time with a Real Live Page.
Pardon me if gazing at these ancient leaves,
Fogs up my glasses and buckles my knees.
It’s so engaging to sit here while paging through time – it’s sublime,
With a Real Live Page.

(dig up the tune in your music archives, from Cy Coleman’s song, Real Live Girl )

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Smoke Signals: Screenplay and Film

Only 2 weeks until the Smoke Signals screenplay and film discussion, here on November 19, at 2 pm. It’s free and you don’t even have to read the screenplay to enjoy the discussion and to watch the film! Here’s some information about Betsy Richards, discussion leader. She is a knowledgeable and entertaining speaker and we think it will be fun to compare the screenplay and the film (shown around 3:15 pm). Call (860) 396-6897 for information.

Betsy Theobald Richards (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) is currently the Creative Fellow with the Opportunity Agenda, a progressive communications and policy organization based in New York City. Formerly she was a Program Officer in Media, Arts and Culture at the Ford Foundation overseeing a national grant making portfolio on Native American arts and cultures. In addition, she had the pleasure of serving as the Director of Public Programs for Mashantucket Pequot Museum from its opening through 2003. In Betsy’s creative life, she is a theater director, playwright, producer and dramaturge. She is currently a member of the graduate faculty of New York University’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy and serves as the Senior Cultural Advisor to Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts. She is a graduate of NYU and the Yale School of Drama and lives in Montclair, NJ with her husband Scott and children Cole and Annabel.