Mashantucket Pequot Museum Library and Archives Blog

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It takes a village – to create a village!

Rendering of Pequot Village exhibit from project notebook 1993

Our 15th Anniversary Year:

The Mashantucket Museum & Research Center opened its doors in 1998. However, long before the bulldozers arrived and the steel girders went up, members of the Mashantucket Pequot community and many researchers and consultants were thinking about how to tell the story of the Pequots and other Native people of the eastern woodlands. Tribal Council minutes from 1988 reflect planning and discussion related to the museum and possible exhibits.

Tribal elders at Museum opening 1998
In the Archives, there are thousands of pages of research, design ideas, drawings, and correspondence which reveal the complex process of bringing this dream to reality. In the coming year, we will be celebrating our history and offering many opportunities for visitors to learn about how the exhibits came to be, in addition to our usual array of programs. Join us in 2013!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

New arrivals at the MPMRC Research Library

History and Culture - Native peoples of the Northeast:

The Unkechaug Indians of Eastern Long Island by John Strong.

“…the most comprehensive analysis to date of Unkechaug history.” 
Chief Harry B. Wallace, Unkechaug Nation


As featured on the Smithsonian Science website:

 Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America’s Clovis Culture by leading archaeologists Bruce Bradley of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Traditional Knowledge

Red Medicine: Traditional Indigenous Rites of Birthing and Healing by Patricia Gonzales

“Gonzales links pre-Columbian thought to contemporary healing practices by examining ancient symbols and their relation to current curative knowledges among Indigenous peoples. Red Medicine suggests that Indigenous healing systems can usefully point contemporary people back to ancestral teachings and help them reconnect to the dynamics of the natural world.”  
University of Arizona Press

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood

The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood, by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, joins the small group of children’s books by Native authors about celebrating Christmas. In her story set in the early 20th century, the author remembers how exciting it was to unpack Theast boxes of used clothing and shoes sent by church congregations in New England. She hoped that there would be a coat just her size in the boxes from “the east” which arrive on the reservation in South Dakota before Christmas. She gave up the only coat that fit her to a more needy school mate, but still loved the Christmas Eve celebration with the Nativity pageant which included the 3 Wise Men - boys wearing “headdresses that only the wise leaders and elders of the tribe could wear.”  It’s a great book, suitable to sharing throughout the year and is the 2012 American Indian Youth Literature Award winning picture book.

The Christmas Coat: Memories of My  Sioux Childhood. Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk. Holiday House, 2011.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Giving Thanks

November…American Indians…Thanksgiving Day…
Why do these terms seem to always appear together? Native people and their stories should not be relegated to only the fall season-whether in curriculum, text books, or storytimes. Not only do the original inhabitants of this land give thanks many times throughout the year, they and others have created a growing body of children’s literature which can and should be read throughout the year and across the curriculum.
To assist people in finding “excellent literature,” the Children’s Library has lists of many books written by American Indians about themselves, their histories and cultures, and their lives. These materials are important as they provide teachers, parents, and children with more accurate information about the cultures, values, and beliefs of many tribal nations and people. The books and videos present information not only about the importance of celebrations to Native communities today, but also about the depth and significance of traditional Native gatherings.
Pequot Museum Children's Library Bibliographies

Teachers, here are some books which will help you update your lesson plans about thanksgiving celebrations and encourage use of Native American materials every month of the year.

Many Thanksgivings: Teaching Thanksgiving-Including the Wampanoag Perspective. The Boston Children’s Museum, 2002.

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving, by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac (Abenaki). National Geographic Society, 2001.

Thanksgiving: A Native Perspective, by Doris Seale (Santee/Cree), Beverly Slapin and Carolyn Silverman (Cherokee/Blackfeet). Oyate, 1995.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

New Hours for the Libraries and Archives

 We’re pleased to announce that the Research Library and the Children’s Library are now open 1-5 pm, Wednesday through Saturday. This change allows for researchers and others to work in the libraries until the Museum closes at 5 pm, and accommodates new staffing levels. If you would like to use the Archives & Special Collections, please call (860) 396-6807 to make an appointment for your visit. We hope the new hours provide everyone with more research opportunities and time in the libraries.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Grant awarded to Mashantucket Pequot Libraries and Archives

Thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center (MPMRC) will begin to reorganize, make more searchable, and provide better documentation for thousands of digital images of the Pequot community and about one hundred hours of audio-visual oral histories and interviews. This project will be the first step in the process of improving the management of our audio-visual and digital collections.

Although not all of our resources are accessible to the public, this project will lead the way to providing better access to all of our holdings in Archives & Special Collections – for all researchers.

Friday, September 14, 2012


A Paleoindian site, dating back 10,000 years, at Ohomowauke Swamp currently under excavation.   
They can – and do.
Archaeologists dig down into the earth to discover the many layers of history upon which we walk and build. Digging into the Museum Archives reveals how archaeology continues to inform our understanding about how Native people lived and provides context for the Museum’s exhibits and the ongoing story of the Mashantucket Pequot Community.

Kevin McBride, an archaeologist and the Director of Research at the Museum, has been conducting research and excavations on the reservation and elsewhere in New England since the 1980’s.

Information from the site below was used to create the 18th century farmstead exhibit in the Museum.

1996 excavation of a Pequot homestead on the reservation


Program from a 1999 Conference

American Society for Ethnohistory

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Meet the Editor

Meet the Editor: Dawn Dove (Narragansett)
 Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, 1-2 pm
We have a new program in our popular series featuring local Native writers. This session is a little different –we get to meet an editor! Dawn Dove, Narragansett elder, is coming to the library to talk about Through Our Eyes, An Indigenous View of Mashapaug Pond, a book she co-edited with Holly Ewald, founder of Urban Pond Procession. This beautiful book is the product of a year-long project to help people imagine what life would have been like for indigenous people living by Mashapaug Pond, in Providence, RI, before European contact. Narragansett community members ages 6 to 92 created collages about Mashapaug using photography, stamping, natural items, and hand-printed papers. The stories and poems illuminate their history, culture, and artistic expression. As an added bonus, Loren Spears (Narragansett), Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum director and educator, speaks about the significance of connecting art and culture to science and environmental curriculum. Please call the Research Library at (860) 396-6897 for more information.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Earl Mills, Sr.

Earl Mills, Sr., Chief Flying Eagle, Wampanoag Elder

What a treat we had listening to Mr. Mills in the library yesterday. He is an excellent speaker and talked for over an hour, without pause! He shared more information than what fit into his recently published book, Talking with the Elders of Mashpee, so he’s already working on the next one. His interviews, thoughts, and stories about his long and eventful life in Mashpee, including memories of his mother and father, friends, and neighbors are fascinating and inspiring. At lunch, we ate some great food, prepared by the Museum chefs, from Mr. Mill’s book, Cape Cod Wampanoag Cookbook: Wampanoag Indian Recipes, Images & Lore. The chowder was excellent-not too thick or thin, but just right, and the grapenut pudding disappeared quickly. Our store still has a few copies of the cookbook left after people snapped it up. If you have a chance to meet Mr. Mills, grab it - you will be happy you did!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Meet Earl Mills, Sr.

Wednesday, August 8
Book Talk 11 am-12 noon
Luncheon 12-1 pm

We’re getting excited about the next Meet the Author program here in the library. Earl Mills, Sr. (Mashpee Wampanoag), author of Cape Cod Wampanoag Cookbook is visiting us on August 8 to chat about the cookbook (he says don’t try the Indian Pudding recipe-it’s not right, but he’ll bring a better one) and his other books, including Son of Mashpee.  Meet him between 11 and 12 noon; stay for a delicious lunch of foods from his cookbook. Book discussion is free. Lunch is $30/20 Museum members. Call (800) 411-9671 or email by Aug. 3 to register. 

Earl Mills Sr., Chief Flying Eagle, has lived in Mashpee since his birth, with the exception of time spent in the Army and pursuing his education at Arnold College in Connecticut. He has been Chief of the Mashpee Wampanoags since 1956, has organized many powwows and was the driving force behind the renovation of the Old Indian Meeting House, one of the most significant historic landmarks on Cape Cod. Mr. Mills has also made his mark on the Cape as a devoted teacher of physical education and most recently as the founder of The Flume, a well-known Mashpee restaurant. This book [Son of Mashpee] came about because "there is a great need in me to share with others that which I remember and that which I know about Mashpee."
Son of Mashpee

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The American Indian Library Association has selected the winners of the 2012 American Indian Youth Literature Awards. The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood, Holiday House, 2011, written by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve and illustrated by Ellen Beier won the Picture Book category. The winners of the Middle School Award are two books by Jacqueline Guest: Free Throw (2011) and Triple Threat (2011), both published by James Lorimer & Co. Pipestone: My Life in an Indian Boarding School by Adam Fortunate Eagle, published by University of Oklahoma Press in 2010, won the Young Adult Award. The awards will be presented at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA, on Sunday, June 24, 2012. Jacqueline Guest is the keynote speaker at the award ceremony.

The American Indian Youth Literature Awards were created to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians, Alaska Natives, Canadian First Nations, and Native Hawaiians. The winning and honor titles authentically convey the past and present of the American Indian experience. The awards are given in three categories—Picture Book, Middle School and Young Adult. 

 “We hope that these awards will raise the visibility of quality works by American Indian authors and artists,” said AILA President Sandy Littletree, “These awards help librarians, teachers,  and parents select quality books by and about Native people, titles that are accurate, non-stereotypical,  and honor the fullness of Native lives."

Four titles were selected as Honor Books in the Picture Book category:
Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light  written by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Karen Clarkson and published by Cinco Puntos Press, 2010.

Kohala Kuamo’o: Nae’ole’s Race to Save a King written by Kekauleleana’ole Kawai’ae’a, illustrated by Aaron Kawai’ae’a, story by Walter and Luana Kawai’ae’a and published by Kamehameha Publishing, 2010.

Mohala Mai ‘O Hau = How Hau Became Hau’ula written by Robert Lono ‘Ikuwa, pictures by Matthew Kawika Ortiz and published by Kamehameha Publishing, 2010.

I See Me written by Margaret Manuel and published by Theytus Books, 2009.

Two titles were selected as Honor Books in the Middle Grades category:
Jordin Tootoo: The Highs and Lows in the Journey of the First Inuit to Play in the NHL written by Melanie Florence and published by James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 2011.  

Awesiinyensag: Dibaajimowinan Ji-Gikinoo’amaageng written by Anton Treuer et al. and published by Wiigwaas Press, 2010.

One title was named as an Honor Book in the Young Adult category:
Native Defenders of the Environment and other titles in the Native Trailblazers series, written by Victor Schilling and published by 7th Generation, 2011.

To learn more about the American Indian Youth Literature Awards, please visit

Members of the 2009-2012 American Indian Youth Literature Awards jury include Lisa A. Mitten, Chair, Stephanie Betancourt, Naomi Bishop, Carlene Engstrom, Gabriella Kaye, Holly Ristau, Grace Slaughter and Jolena Tillequots. 

Friday, April 27, 2012


Recently, 4th graders from a local school visited the Museum’s Children’s Library and traveled back 350 years: from a thumbnail photograph of a deed on a page in Patricia Clark Smith’s 2011 book, Weetamoo: Heart of the Pocassets to the very real 17th century document, showing the mark made by Wampanoag leader Wamsutta. The class is about to read Smith’s book, a fictional “diary” of a real girl who grew up to be a powerful leader of the Wampanoag during the time of King Philip’s War. Leah Hopkins, a museum educator, who is also a member of the Narragansett tribe, provided more context for the story of Weetamoo, and helped to separate fact from fiction regarding the language and culture of the Native people depicted in the book, then and now. We all learned from this observant group of young students and we hope that we have helped the pages of the book come alive for them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Meet the Author-Joan Tavares Avant

People of the First Light
Saturday, March 31, 2012, 11 am to noon

Join us in welcoming Mashpee Wampanoag elder, Joan Tavares Avant, known as Granny Squannit, to the Research Library. Talking about her book-a collection of history, stories, recipes, newspaper articles, and more, she makes the stories come alive. We think it’s always a privilege to be able to sit down and talk with an author and this is a rare opportunity to spend time with Granny Squannit and hear her stories. If you love Cape Cod, and you want to learn about the first people who have lived there for years and years, you should come. Copies of her book will be available for purchase. Meet the Author is a free program; please use the Group Entrance in the middle of the building.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Postcards and Ship's Log - What's the Story?

The Archives and Special Collections recently acquired two postcards showing a parade in Stonington,CT circa 1914. The program can be found in the Library of Congress.The participants on the “Tepee” float are named in the program book of the 1914 Centennial Pageant and Parade held to honor the Town of Stonington’s defense against the British during the War of 1812. If you have visited the Museum, you know that the Native people in the area were more likely to be found in a wigwam than a tipi.

Also in the parade was a whaling boat, brought from New Bedford for the occasion. Again Museum visitors will know that Native people were found on whaling ships, according to a variety of historical resources including ships’ logs. A digital copy of the Blackstone Ship’s Log, 1837, was recently created at the Museum to further such research, thanks to the loan of the original, which is permanently housed at the Stonington Historical Society.

Would you like to know more about wigwams, where and how Pequot tribal members lived in the early 19th and 20th centuries, or how they fit into the story of the whaling industry? Visit us!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Meet the Author

Larry Spotted Crow Mann visited the Research Library on Jan 28, and we know some people missed meeting him because it was a snow postoned date. He was excellent, so consider getting his book, Tales from the Whispering Basket. We're hoping that the weather cooperates for our next Meet the Author-Joan Tavares Avant (Granny Squannit). She'll be here on Sat., March 31, at 11 am. Come meet her and buy her book People of the First Light-she will certainly autograph it for you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Meet the Author this Saturday, Jan. 28

The Museum was closed on January 21-too much snow! Our Meet the Author program takes place this Saturday, January 28, at 11:30 am-12:30 pm. Come meet Larry Spotted Crow Mann (Nipmuc) and talk with him about his book, Tales from the Whispering Basket. Buy a copy from him and get it autographed at his talk.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Larry Spotted Crow Mann

Snow? Maybe this Saturday…we hope not because Larry Spotted Crow Mann (Nipmuc) will be in the Research Library from 11:30 until 12:30 pm, greeting people and talking about his book, Tales from the Whispering Basket, composed of short pieces reflecting his Native roots and family traditions. So if it doesn’t snow and you want to meet him, please come to the first-ever Meet the Author program. It’s free! If the Museum is closed-call 800-411-9671 to check the status-come next Saturday, January 28, same time and place.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Meet the Author: Larry Spotted Crow Mann

Saturday, January 21, 11:30 am-12:30 pm

This year the Research Library debuts Meet the Author, a new program that brings local Native authors to the Museum to discuss their works. We’re pleased that Larry Spotted Crow Mann (Nipmuc) is the first featured writer in the series. His book, Tales from the Whispering Basket, has received praise from readers and reviewers. His stories reflect his Native roots and family oral traditions but also embrace universal themes, with mature content. Spotted Crow has performed here with The Quabbin Lake Singers, and now we welcome him as a writer. Please join us to hear him talk about his book and the inspiration for writing the stories. Buy a copy for yourself or as a gift and get it autographed. In the Research Library, ages 14 and older. Free. Snow date is Jan. 28.