An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
Title Page, Copyright
More people than I can name, and certainly more than I could keep track
of, helped during this project, from its initial conception, to finding and
contacting writers, to tracking down copyright holders, to the final layout
I can’t quite describe what a great honor it was, and how humbling, to work with these eleven community editors. They are astonishingly brilliant...
Years ago, when I started thinking about this anthology, I had what I thought was a simple, practical need. I was hired to teach Native American literature, first at the University of Maine and then at the University of New Hampshire, and I wanted to include local authors. But that literature was maddeningly hard to find. Aside from two repeatedly mentioned early...
The Mi’kmaq have occupied the eastern coast and forests of Canada and the New England area, which collectively is called Mi’kma’ki, for as long as anyone can remember. The Mi’kmaq continue to transmit their knowledge, beliefs, customs, and practices through performances and oral traditions, based on storytelling, songs, ceremonies, symbols, and...
Chief Stephen Augustine
An elder of the Elsipogtog (Big Cove) First Nation in New Brunswick, Stephen Augustine is a hereditary chief on the Mi’kmaq Grand Council. He also serves as curator of eastern maritime ethnology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Quebec. In 2009 Augustine received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Culture, Heritage, and Spirituality. Of the selection below, he says, “My...
Grand Council of the Mi’kmaq Nation
The leadership of the Grand Council is made up of three positions: the kjisakamow (grand chief) is the ceremonial head of state; the kjikeptin (grand captain) is the executive of the council; and the putus (wisdom) is the keeper of the constitution and the rememberer of the treaties.) The following essay, which originally appeared in the collection...
Elsie Charles Basque
Elsie Basque attended the Shubenacadie Residential School between 1930 and 1932—years she recalled as “wasted.” In 1937 she became the first Mi’kmaq person to get a teacher’s certificate from the Provincial Normal College in Truro, Nova Scotia, and went on to teach at the Indian Day School in Indian Brook. In 1951 she moved with her husband, Isaac Basque, and their three children to...
Perhaps the most beloved Mi’kmaq writer, Rita Joe received numerous awards in her lifetime, including honorary doctorates from Dalhousie University, Cape Breton University, and Mount Saint Vincent University; the National Aboriginal Achievement Award; and membership in the Order of Canada. In her autobiography, from which the selections below are taken, she describes her childhood...
Daniel N. Paul
Daniel Paul has had a long and distinguished career as a writer and activist. Like many of his colleagues represented in this volume, he has received numerous prestigious national awards, including the Order of Canada, an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Anne, and an honorary law degree from Dalhousie University. Paul founded the Confederacy of Mainland Micmacs, the...
Marie Battiste received her doctorate of education at Stanford University in 1984 and has additional, honorary degrees from the University of Maine–Farmington and St. Mary’s College. She is now a professor at the University of Saskatchewan, where she also directs the Aboriginal Educational Research Center. In 2008 Dr. Battiste won the National Aboriginal Achievement Award. She is the author of...
James Sakej Youngblood Henderson
Henderson is married to Marie Battiste, with whom he has three children, including Jaime. In 1974 he received a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School and became a law professor who created litigation strategies to restore Aboriginal culture, institutions, and rights. During the constitutional process (1978–93) in Canada, he served as a constitutional advisor for the Mí’kmaw nation and the...
An enormously talented young writer, Lorne Simon died in a car accident, cutting short a promising writing career. He was born in Big Cove and studied at the En’owkin International School of Writing in British Columbia. In his honor the Mi’kmaq Maliseet Institute in New Brunswick offers the Lorne Simon Award each year to a new writer. The following selection comes from his...
Lindsay Marshall has served as chief at the Potlotek (Chapel Island) First Nation in Nova Scotia, principal of the Unama’ki College at Cape Breton University, and as a Mi’kmaw poet laureate. In 1997 he published a book of poems, Clay Pots and Bones, from which the following selections are...
Jaime Battiste has a bachelor of arts in Mi’kmaw studies and bachelor of law from Dalhousie Law School. He is a First Nations and Mi’kmaq advisor, a constitutional and human rights advocate, and an advocate for First Nations youth. He has been on the national executive council of Assembly of First Nations and an assistant professor of Mi’kmaq studies at Cape Breton University and is now the...
Alice Azure’s recent writings have appeared in Native Literatures: Generations; Yellow Medicine Review; Whisper n Thunder; I Was Indian: An Anthology of Native Literature; Visions and Voices: American Indian Activism and the Civil Rights Movement; Many Mountains Moving; Yukhika-latuhse; Mid Rivers Review; and Birthed from Scorched Hearts: Women Respond to War. A Mi’kmaq Métis, her roots are in...
The niece of Lorne Simon, also in this volume, Starlit Simon is from Elsipogtog (Big Cove) First Nation, New Brunswick. She earned a BA in sociology from the University of New Brunswick. In 2006 she worked at the Fredericton Native Friendship Center, where she created and wrote a newsletter, the Mali-Mac Times. Later she traveled through Canada and Europe, which led her to a new...
Have you ever wondered why you see Maliseet/Malecite spelled two different ways? It is because the tribe exists in two different countries, the United States and Canada. The Malecite spelling is usually seen in Quebec. In the United States the community is referred to as a tribe, whereas in Canada it is referred to as a First Nation. Most of the Maliseet First Nations...
Gabriel Acquin founded the St. Mary’s Reserve in New Brunswick and became famous as a guide, hunter, and performer. Among the many dignitaries he hosted in his homeland was the Prince of Wales in 1860; Acquin later traveled to England, exhibiting his canoe and wigwam. Acquin’s legacy is complicated. Historian Andrea Bear Nicholas has called his “a classic case of the colonized striving to imitate the...
Chief James Paul
The art historian Ruth Phillips has found letters exchanged between Chief James Paul of the St. Mary’s Reserve and Edward Sapir. The anthropologist, it seems, was putting pressure on Paul to re-create artifacts with what he deemed a veneer of authenticity—what he called “the style that the Indians used long ago before they knew anything about white man’s ways,” made without “white man’s materials.” Paul’s...
Henry “Red Eagle” Perley
Easily one of the most prolific writers in this collection, Henry Perley (a.k.a. “Chief Red Eagle”) published hundreds of short stories and essays in popular magazines, including All-Story Weekly, Boy’s Life, Open Road for Boys, All West Magazine, and Maine Recreation. Born in Greenville, Maine, he traveled with wild west shows in the 1910s and 1920s, both within the United States and overseas to Europe; he...
Born in the Tobique First Nation, Shirley Bear is a well-known writer, multimedia artist, activist, and traditional herbalist. She has exhibited her visual art in cities across Canada and the United States and has published her poetry and essays in numerous anthologies. She was also the subject of a short film, Minqwon Minqwon, directed by Catherine Martin (Mi’kmaq) for Canada’s National Film Board...
Andrea Bear Nicholas
Dr. Andrea Bear Nicholas chairs the Native Studies Department at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, where she developed the first Native Language Immersion Teacher Training Program based in a North American university. Language revitalization is her current focus: she is working on a massive collection of Maliseet-language stories and is also piloting a three-year adult Maliseet...
Chief Brenda Commander
In 1997 Brenda Commander was elected the first woman chief of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, in which capacity she still serves today. She was raised in extreme poverty in Houlton, where her family worked picking potatoes and blueberries, among other jobs, to make ends meet. Commander began working for the Maliseets first in the education department, and then in finance. She has...
Mihku Paul was born and raised along the Penobscot River in Maine and is a member of the Kingsclear First Nation in New Brunswick. She received a traditional education from her grandfather, a Maliseet elder, and also attended public schools. She holds a BA in communication and human development as well as an MFA in creative writing. A writer, visual artist, and storyteller, Paul paired the...
The Passamaquoddy have always respected the ocean, rivers, and land. Many stories have evolved from this respect through the years. Along Passamaquoddy Bay, the forces of nature are shown through the power of the ocean. In Lubec you can see the ocean water in the bay flowing into the Atlantic. With this view, you can understand why the ocean hunters...
Sopiel (or Selmore) Soctomah was appointed to serve as a scout for the Maine Militia during the American Revolution, and in this capacity he and fifty other Passamaquoddy men captured a British military ship. Also a wampum reader, he traveled to Quebec every four years to meet with the Iroquois at the Great Fire Council. Soctomah’s son, Sopiel Selmore (below), carried on the tradition...
Chief Francis Joseph Neptune
Like many other Passamaquoddy men of his day, Francis Joseph Neptune was directly involved in the American Revolution. He became known as the soldier who shot the commander of a British ship during its attack on Machias, forcing the British to retreat. Neptune is considered the last heritage chief of the...
The son-in-law of Chief Francis Joseph Neptune, Deacon Sockabasin assisted
the tribe in many negotiations and was fluent in French, English, and Passamaquoddy.
He built the first timber-framed house at Pleasant Point when all other
lodgings were wigwams.
Save the Fish and Wildlife and Return Our Land!
Passamaquoddy tribe of Indians, have from the commencement of the...
An advisor to many chiefs in his day, Joseph Stanislaus was a man of great wisdom and a peaceful nature. An incident in 1835 around Eastport, Maine, shows how the Passamaquoddy Indians felt about the land. Stanislaus and some other men had taken birch bark to make torch lights for herring fishing; as they were leaving the forest, Ichabod Chadbourne, the non-Native “owner” of the land, approached them...
Chief Sopiel Selmore was the son of Sopiel Soctomah (p. 163) and a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was raised learning the old ways of his family as the traditional wampum keepers, and was the wampum reader at Sipayik. In 1870 he was one of the last two tribal envoys sent to Caughnawaga, the Mohawk village that served as the headquarters of the Wabanaki Confederacy. When he...
Tomah Joseph was a renowned birch-bark artist; he built on old tribal traditions of birch-bark mapmaking to create beautiful baskets, images, and canoes. His home was at Peter Dana Point, where he served as governor in the 1880s. He spent summers on Campobello Island, selling his artwork and working as a guide for summer visitors, including the young Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Donald...
Lewis Mitchell is remembered and revered as an effective tribal representative to the Maine State Legislature. Below is an excerpt from a famous speech that he delivered in those halls in 1887, one that is widely circulated in books, historic exhibits, and school curricula in Maine today.1 Additionally, Robert Leavitt and David Francis have reissued Mitchell’s wampum records. Mitchell is said to have...
Sylvia Gabriel’s baskets are in museums all over the country. She belonged to the renowned Gabriel family of master Passamaquoddy basketmakers, documented in the film Gabriel Women: Passamaquoddy Basketmakers. She was a founding member of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance and a devoted teacher of the art. As the selections below show, she was also a talented poet; she circulated some...
Another fascinating writer who submitted work to the Passamaquoddy tribal newsletters was Peter Mitchell, a World War II veteran from Perry, Maine. Mitchell was murdered, a case that—like several other homicides of Maine Native people during the 1960s and 1970s—remains unsolved. He wrote the following letter in 1966 and published it in one of the small, ephemeral tribal...
Mary Ellen Stevens Socobasin
Socobasin was a teacher much beloved in the Passamaquoddy communities for her knowledge of and passion for sharing tribal traditions and language. In 1979 she wrote a bilingual story about a young girl, Maliyan, drawing on oral stories from tribal elders. The tribe reissued that story in 2000 on an interactive CD-ROM designed to facilitate language learning. The following poem, “Passamaquoddy...
The great-grandson of Sopiel Soctomah (above), Donald Soctomah received his bachelor’s degree in forest management from the University of Maine, where he later received an honorary doctorate. For eight years he served as the tribal legislative representative. He has written several books on the history of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and is now director of the Historic Preservation...
Vera Francis of Sipayik is a storyteller, public speaker, educator, and activist dedicated to protecting and reclaiming Passamaquoddy homelands, including ancestral territories in New Brunswick. In particular, she has been active in the fight against liquid natural gas (LNG) development at the Pleasant Point Reservation, an issue she recounts in the following piece, which she wrote in 2007 for an...
Meader’s father was Passamaquoddy; however, she writes, “Native influence was removed from my life when I was six and my parents were divorced, and found again when I moved to Indian Township in the 1990s.” She enjoys learning about her ancestors and her tribe’s history and has always loved poetry and creative writing. The following poems appear in print here for the first...
Susie Mitchell Sutton
Susie was born in Eastport, Maine, and is Passamaquoddy/Iroquois. She has two sons whom she loves and adores, Peter and Tony, and considers herself “very lucky to have a husband like Butch.” She dedicates this story, her first publication, “to her mom, Tuffy, and her sister, Rae-Lee, whom she misses dearly...
Wendy Newell Dyer
Wendy Newell Dyer works as a freelance writer and photographer. She studied literature and professional writing at the University of Maine. She is a trained bereavement counselor for hospice, and she has been active in the prostate cancer recovery community since the passing of her husband, Bill. The following autobiographical essay is being published here for the first time...
A respected writer from Sipayik, Russell Bassett has shared many of his poems, including those below, on the Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy tribal website (www.wabanaki.com). He has also been published in the collection Timeless Voices from the International Library of Poetry. Bassett ran away from home when he was five years old and lived with the attorney Don Gellers, who he says...
A Wabanaki sundancer from Sipayik, Kani Malsom says, “I lived in the sickness of drugs and alcohol, the sickness that hinders the growth of our people. The Creator took pity on me and gave me a dream to help me on this walk of life. The Creator showed me a better way to live my life. He showed me that red road, the sundance way of life. I no longer walk...
Rolfe Richter is a self-taught flute player who lives in Perry, Maine, and often performs around Eastport. He recorded a CD of his music, Dreamwalk, which contains more of his poetry. The poem below is being published for the first time...
Tina Downing is currently an elected member of the Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy
Tribal Council. She also works in the tribe’s Computer Technology
Department. This story, about her mother, Mary Theresa Downing (Lola), is her
A Summer Day in Motahkomikuk5
It wasn’t until I became a mother that I learned how strong my mom...
Maggie Neptune Dana
Maggie Neptune Dana was born in eastern Maine into a family of hereditary leaders of the tribe and expert basketmakers. She presently serves on the Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Tribal Council and works in the Finance Department. She wrote the following poems for the 1996 tribal pamphlet, Passamaquoddy...
Marie Francis has been writing since a very young age, despite being discouraged by an early diagnosis of dyslexia. She graduated from Landmark High School in Beverly, Massachusetts. The daughter of Chief Melvin Francis, she now lives and works in Portland, Maine. “Diminished Dreams” is her first published poem...
A descendant of Chief Tomah Joseph and a daughter of Nicholas and Annette Dana, Natalie lives at Indian Township, Maine. She is studying anthropology and archaeology with a minor in Native American studies at the University of Maine. These are her first published poems...
Jenny served in the military in the Middle East. She is now a mother of three and is a descendant of Chief Tomah Joseph. Her father is Donald Soctomah, and her mother is Joyce Tomah. She says she loves to write her heartfelt emotions in her journal. The poem below is being published here for the first time...
Ellen Nicholas grew up in Sipayik. She received her BA in interdisciplinary fine arts at the University of Maine–Machias, and now teaches grades K-8 at the Beatrice Rafferty School at Sipayik Pleasant Point. She wrote the two poems below as companion pieces for her senior art exhibit at the University of Maine...
A descendant of Tomah Joseph and a daughter of Nicholas and Annette Dana, Cassy Dana lives at Indian Township, where she is director of the Passamaquoddy Tribal Heritage Museum. She is currently studying anthropology at the University of Maine–Orono...
The Penobscot people live mainly on Indian Island across from Old Town,
in Maine. The land holdings we retain today are in Williamsburg, Alder
Stream, Carrabasset Valley, Steuben, and Lakeville. This is due to the
Land Claim of 1980.
Our traditional route used to entail going to the coastal areas by canoe and staying there until August. Then we’d come back up the river and get...
Penobscot Governors and Indians in Council
Gale Courey Toensing, a journalist widely respected for her coverage of New England in the prominent newspaper Indian Country Today, cited the following petition in a 2009 article on Maine Indian leaders’ appeals to President Barack Obama to protect them from state incursions against tribal sovereignty. The 1829 petition illustrates that such letters—including the one to Obama from Maliseet...
Joseph Nicolar belonged to an illustrious Penobscot family: his grandfather was the hereditary chief John Neptune; his daughter Florence became a writer and activist. Another daughter, Lucy, married the Kiowa performer Bruce Poolaw and toured in the 1920s as Princess Watawaso. Nicolar’s grandson (Florence’s son), Charles Nicolar Shay, today maintains a small family museum on Indian...
Molly Spotted Elk
One of the most intriguing public figures of the early twentieth century, Molly Spotted Elk (born Mary Alice Nelson) left Indian Island when she was a teenager to dance in New York nightclubs and in Texas vaudeville. She got a starring role in The Silent Enemy (1930), a silent film in which she played an Ojibwe woman in love with a warrior played by Sylvester Long, another celebrity, then known as Chief...
Fred Ranco grew up on Indian Island during the Great Depression, enlisted in the U.S. Army near the end of World War II, and later joined the National Guard in Bangor. Like many Penobscots of his generation, he also worked for the Old Town Canoe Company. After marrying an Abenaki woman he moved to New Hampshire for forty years. He maintained a small Indian crafts shop in Albany...
ssipsis (Penobscot for “little bird”) was born on Indian Island in the Penobscot Nation and is well known for her writing and visual art. Some of her birch-bark etchings are on permanent display at the Penobscot Nation Museum on Indian Island; other works are at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor. ssipsis has also worked as a social worker and as an editor for the...
Donna Loring has had a long and distinguished career: Vietnam veteran, police chief, security director, activist, and politician. Following in the footsteps of John Neptune, Joseph Nicolar, and others, she served as tribal representative to the state legislature for approximately twelve years and has published a memoir about the experience. As tribal representative, she submitted the “Joint Resolution...
Born and raised on Indian Island, Carol Dana has six children and nine grandchildren. In 2008 she earned her MA in education at the University of Maine. She has devoted years to Penobscot language revitalization, working with linguist Frank Siebert on the Penobscot dictionary project during the 1980s and teaching Penobscot at the Indian Island School during the 1990s. At present she is the...
For many years the only Native American journalist in Maine, Rhonda Frey worked in television, radio, and print. She produced a radio show called Indigenous Voices for WERU, a community-supported, noncommercial station in Blue Hill, Maine. She also worked for the Penobscot Nation as a human resources counselor. As an activist, Frey fought to get the word squaw banned from public landmarks in...
John Bear Mitchell
An educator and storyteller, John Bear Mitchell works for the University of Maine’s Wabanaki Center and has made numerous appearances on radio and television, particularly with Maine PBS. Mitchell wrote eight Ulnerbeh (Gluscabe) stories, including the one below, for the environmental education organization Penobscot Riverkeepers 2000. The Bangor Daily News ran the stories. The Penobscot...
Sherri Mitchell was born and raised on the Penobscot Nation, Indian Island, Maine. She has worked as a program coordinator for the American Indian Institute’s Healing the Future Program, is a participant in the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth, and is an alumna of both the American Indian Ambassador Program and the Udall Native American Congressional Internship...
A proud father of three girls, Nick Bear has been involved in writing, acting, and performing for many years. He grew up on Indian Island but identifies with all four of the Maine Wabanaki nations. Of his poetry, he writes, “I like to create images with my writing that showcase my heritage and the things it has taught me, or imagine through my writing the things I can show others. To keep my people...
The petitions, prose, and poetry in this chapter originate from the waterways of Ndakinna, “our land” in the Western Abenaki language, from the survivors of hundreds of years of resistance and resilience in the lands now most commonly known as northern New England and southern Quebec. While part of the larger Wabanaki—people of the dawn, people...
Samuel Numphow was the son of the Patucket sachem Numphow, a convert and early leader of the praying town of Wamesit, located at the ancient fishing falls of Pawtucket, a considerable Pennacook town and central gathering place, especially during the spring fish runs, at the confl uence of the Concord and Merrimac Rivers, a longtime gathering place for Pennacook people. Samuel Numphow acquired his...
New Hampshire residents and tourists know “Kancamagus” from the scenic White Mountain highway named for the Pennacook sagamore. He was the grandson of the famous sachem Passaconaway and the son of the sachem Nanamocomuck, who was born around 1636. Kancamagus himself married a woman from Ameroscoggin. Abenaki historian David Stewart-Smith says that “his English name, Hodgkins, is...
Laurent headed an illustrious family at Odanak, Quebec, where he himself served as chief from 1880 to 1892. With his son Stephen (also included in this volume), he established a well-known trading post at Intervale, New Hampshire, traveling there each summer to sell baskets. His 1884 New Familiar Abenakis and English Dialogues is still widely used by Abenaki people today in language preservation...
Henry Lorne Masta
Like Joseph Laurent and their relative Peter Paul Wzokhilain before him, Henry Lorne Masta transcribed and translated Abenaki oral traditions into written form. His Abenaki Indian Legends, Grammar and Place-Names was first published in 1932, but Abenaki people have continued to circulate and use the book for language revitalization, among other purposes—a fact driven home by Joseph and Jesse...
Robert James Tahamont
Robert Tahamont attended the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania with Albert DeGrasse (Wampanoag), also represented in this volume. His school records indicate that he was fifteen when he arrived in 1906 from Lake George and that he graduated in 1911. For a few years afterward he sent some correspondence to the school reporting that he was living in New Jersey, working first as a baker’s...
Like his father, Joseph Laurent, Stephen was an accomplished linguist. He spent thirty years working on an English translation of a French-Abenaki dictionary compiled in 1713 by the Jesuit missionary Joseph Aubrey; the book has since become a critical source for Abenaki language revitalization work. Stephen Laurent was born at Odanak and lived much of his life in New Hampshire, where he ran...
Claudia Mason Chicklas
Like a number of writers in this volume, Claudia Chicklas worked with the New England Native American Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts; for many years, she edited its newsletter. Her lineage included some prominent figures: distant ancestor Eunice Williams (the Englishwoman who famously married into the Mohawk Nation after she was captured at Deerfield, Massachusetts, in 1704); Mary...
Joseph Bruchac III
One of the most prolific contemporary Native American writers, Joseph Bruchac has written more than one hundred books for readers of every age, including novels, poetry, and retellings of traditional indigenous narratives. In the late 1970s, frustrated with the marginalization of good Native writing, he and his wife, Carol, started the Greenfield Literary Review Center. Bruchac has helped innumerable...
Carol Willette Bachofner
Carol Bachofner is Abenaki, Scottish, French, and English by birth. Her poems and essays have been published in Genocide of the Mind: New Native American Writing, My Home as I Remember, the En’owkin Journal of First Peoples, Prairie Schooner, The 2008 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire, the Comstock Review, Maine Taproots, the Cream City Review, CT Review, Crab Orchard Review, Cider Press...
Cheryl Savageau (Abenaki/French) is a poet and visual artist whose work draws on family, traditional stories, history, and the land. She has been awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and her work is widely anthologized. Her second book, Dirt Road Home, was a finalist for the Paterson Prize and was nominated for a Pulitzer...
Donna Laurent Caruso
Donna Laurent Caruso worked for over twenty years in marketing, advertising, and public relations in the manufacturing sector in Massachusetts before becoming a freelance editor, writer, photographer, and publisher. She has written for newspapers including Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise, Lowell Sun, and Indian Country Today; for the latter, she has covered issues concerning many of the people...
Margaret M. Bruchac
Both a scholar and a performer, Dr. Bruchac is an assistant professor of anthropology and coordinator of Native American and Indigenous studies at the University of Pennsylvania. As a storyteller and musician, she has been featured at the First Nations Festival, Historic Deerfield, Old Sturbridge Village, and hundreds of other venues. Her book Malian’s Song was awarded the American Folklore...
Suzanne S. Rancourt
Rancourt’s Billboard in the Clouds was the 2001 recipient of the Native Writers First Book Award. She holds a master of fine arts in poetry from Vermont College, a master of science degree in educational psychology from SUNY, Albany, and a certificate of advanced graduate studies in expressive arts: therapy, education, and consulting from the European Graduate School, Switzerland. Rancourt is also a...
Storyteller, tracker, and wilderness guide James Bruchac is the director of the Ndakinna Education Center and Nature Preserve in Greenfield Center, New York. Bruchac is the coauthor of several books with his father, Joseph Bruchac, and he also coauthored Scats & Tracks of the Northeast with Dr. James Halfpenny. Bruchac is presently working with Dr. Halfpenny on an animal-tracking and observation...
The son of Joseph and Carol Bruchac, Jesse has devoted himself to the revitalization of the Abenaki language. He maintains an invaluable Abenaki-language website at www.westernabenaki.com and frequently offers language classes, language camps, and innovative language pedagogies. Additionally, Jesse works with his father at the Greenfield Review Literary Center, publishing new and old indigenous authors...
Cheryl Watching Crow Stedtler
Friends and family always roll their eyes disapprovingly, wondering, “Again? You’re going up there again?” I never considered it to be more than their friendly concern regarding my countless trips up to Nipmuc country. Month after month, year after year they continued. Not until a friend prodded me did I really ask myself, Why? And I really had to think...
Nipmuc people engaged with alphabetic literacy early on, in large numbers, and often in complicated, seemingly contradictory ways. One of the most famous early Nipmuc writers was Wowaus, also known as James Printer. Son of a sachem from Hassanamesit, Wowaus attended Harvard’s Indian College and, beginning in 1659, worked there as an apprentice at Samuel Green’s printing press. He was...
Ebenezer Hemenway’s mother was Hepsibeth Bowman Crosman, a descendant of one of the original proprietors of Natick, the “praying town” established by John Eliot in Massachusetts in the 1650s. Hepsibeth is reputed to have been a highly regarded figure in Worcester who baked prized wedding cakes. She married a mixed-race man, Jeff rey Hemenway. Their son Ebenezer worked as a janitor in...
Zara Ciscoe Brough
Also known as Princess White Flower, Zara Ciscoe Brough was descended from James Printer; her grandfather James Lemuel Cisco and her mother, Sara Cisco Sullivan, both led the Hassanamesit Nipmuc Reservation before Brough herself assumed that responsibility in 1959. She founded the tribal museum in 1962. Brough was a powerful businesswoman and civic leader. She studied engineering...
Like other southern New England Native communities, the Nipmucs have long incorporated African Americans and other groups. As historian Daniel Mandell explains in Tribe, Race, History, some families “could cross and recross ethnic boundaries as different generations followed particular ancestral ties to forge deeper connections to either the Nipmuc or the African- American community,” but...
Richard Spotted Rabbit Massey
Richard Massey served on the Nipmuc Nation Tribal Council from 1997 to 1999. He also presided over the New England Native American Institute, based in Worcester, Massachusetts, and advised the Worcester Historical Museum on its representations of Nipmuc people and history. In addition, he was the elder advisor for Project Mishoon, a Nipmuc underwater archaeology project. He wrote his own...
Edwin W. Morse Sr.
Edwin Morse served as chief of the Chaubunagungamaug (Dudley/Webster) Band of Nipmuck Indians from 1982 until his death, when his son, Edwin Morse Jr. (Red Fox), succeeded him.3 He was instrumental in the band’s (ongoing) federal recognition struggles. Like many Nipmuc leaders, Morse was also a prolific writer, self-publishing three books of his own, including a lesson book, an Algonquian...
Kitt Little Turtle
Kitt Little Turtle was the medicine man for the Chaubunagungamaug Nipmucks at Webster, Massachusetts. He was also an illustrator and a prolific writer who produced articles for the tribal newsletter, Nipmucspohke, and the Webster Times, as well as language texts of his own. He provided artwork and several traditional stories, including the “Nipmuck Legend” and “Legend about Hobbamock,” for...
Nancy Bright Sky Harris
Born Nancy Virginia Jacobs, Harris has served as vice president of the Board of Directors for the Nipmuc Indian Association of Connecticut. She has sung with Native American drum groups since 1989, when she and her brother Everett Little Turtle Jacobs formed the Full Circle Drum Society in Connecticut. She was also the lead singer in a women’s drum group called Red Clover; she appears on...
An esteemed musician, composer, and flute maker, Hawk Henries got his start in the mental health field, working with children with autism and later with adolescents with substance-abuse histories. He learned traditional flute-making skills—using only hand tools and fire—after being forced to repair a beloved instrument given to him by his family. By the early 1990she was working full-time...
Cheryl Watching Crow Stedtler
Cheryl Stedtler is the director of the Nipmuc Nation’s underwater archaeology endeavor, Project Mishoon, at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Massachusetts. She founded and edited the Nipmuc tribal newsletter, Nipmucspohke. Additionally, she manages a website and several online communication groups for the Nipmucs. Stedtler is also a microbiologist, a journalist, a genealogist, and an...
Cheryll Toney Holley
Cheryll Toney Holley is the current Nipmuc Nation chief. She is also a highly skilled Nipmuc historian, researcher, and writer. She served on the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs from 1998 to 2008. In addition to writing for the tribal newsletters, she maintains several blogs, including one for the Hassanamisco Museum, and also writes creatively. The historical essay below has been widely...
Bruce Curliss is well known as a powwow emcee and leading Nipmuc spokesman. He has worked and traveled extensively throughout Indian Country. He has served on the Nipmuc Nation Tribal Council as well as on the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs, which he chaired. Curliss worked on the PBS series We Shall Remain, and he has directed his own film, Survivor. Currently he lives and...
Larry Spotted Crow Mann
Larry Spotted Crow Mann serves as the Drum Keeper of the Quabbin Lake Singers, a sacred trust of the Nipmuc Tribe. He travels throughout the United States and Canada to schools, colleges, powwows, and other organizations, sharing his music, culture, and history. Mann appears in several documentaries: We Shall Remain, directed by Chris Eyre for PBS; and...
Sarah “She Paints Horses” Stedtler
Sarah Stedtler, a high school sophomore in New Jersey, is the daughter of Cheryl Watching Crow Stedtler (above). Stedtler is active in the Nipmuc youth community. In her free time, she enjoys drawing, horseback riding, and Native fancy shawl dancing. She hopes to have a career working with animals. These are her first published poems, written when she was in the fifth grade...
Joan Tavares Avant (Granny Squannit)
As an Elder I’m empowered and proud to have the opportunity to bring together the voices of two indigenous tribes who were here ten thousand to twelve thousand years before the Pilgrims landed on our shores. We are the Mashpee Wampanoag (“People of the First Light”) and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (“Aquinnah”). Our boundary locations are different, and...
Early Texts in Massachusett
In 2010 Jessie Little Doe (Fermino) Baird received a MacArthur Foundation award for her work on Wampanoag (Wôpanâak) language revitalization. Wampanoag offers a unique resource to Native scholars like Baird (and Helen Manning, who appears below), in that a sizable body of texts is written in the language. This is due in large part to missionaries like the Puritan John Eliot, who produced the...
DeGrasse attended the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1911 with Robert Tahamont (Abenaki, also in this volume). He was active in student leadership, serving as vice president of his senior class and treasurer of the debating society, the Invincibles, of which Tahamont also was a member. Although attending Carlisle was traumatic for many students, DeGrasse’s writings express...
An important figure at Mashpee, Mabel Avant ran for tribal office in 1935, served as the Mashpee town clerk, and became a leading historian for the tribe. She devoted a great deal of time to sharing traditional stories; Joan Avant remembers children running to hear Mrs. Avant tell tribal legends. Mabel Avant belonged to one of the tribe’s oldest families, the Pocknetts; with her husband, George...
Helen Manning was born to a prominent Gay Head family, the Vanderhoops. She spent summers on the island but went to school in Washington DC, where she lived with extended family. Manning continued on in the city through much of her young adulthood, working for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing as well as the Department of Labor. In 1956 she moved permanently back to Gay Head to...
Frank James (Wamsutta)
This speech has been famous since Frank James first delivered it on Thanksgiving Day, 1970. Pilgrim descendants had invited him to appear at the 350th anniversary of the landing, but they un-invited him when they heard what he was planning to say. James went ahead and made his speech before hundreds of Native American protesters, kicking off the annual National Day of Mourning. The...
Like many of the Wampanoag scholars represented in this volume, Helen Attaquin worked for Plimoth Plantation’s Wampanoag Indigenous Program and the Boston Children’s Museum, for which she wrote the piece “How Martha’s Vineyard Came to Be.” Wampanoag elders and educators used these two programs, established in the 1970s, to shape tribal self-representation in Massachusetts in the decades...
Russell Peters (Fast Turtle)
As president of the Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council from 1974 to 1980, Russell Peters filed the famous Mashpee land claim that eventually led to federal recognition. He had a master’s degree in education from Harvard and served in the Korean War. We have selected some short passages from his important history The Wampanoags of Mashpee that we feel complement the other...
Long involved with a variety of tribal committees, including the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, Anne Foxx has worked for decades to educate the public about Native American people in New England. She has served for over twenty years on the Advisory Committee for the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness and has worked with the Higher Education Opportunities Program, assisting...
Linda Coombs was born and raised at Aquinnah but married a Mashpee Wampanoag and has lived at Mashpee for over thirty years. A museum educator, she has worked for the Boston Children’s Museum and Plimoth Plantation’s Wampanoag Indigenous Program, for which she was the associate director between 1996 and 2008. The essay below appeared in Plimoth Plantation’s own...
The daughter of Mashpee leader Russell Peters (see above), Paula Peters has worked as a journalist for the Cape Cod Times. She has also worked in education and outreach with Plimoth Plantation and currently does marketing and communications management for Wampworx, a contracting company she cofounded with her husband, Mark Harding. In 2009 Peters received a standing ovation at...
Like many of the writers from Mashpee, Robert Peters draws heavily on two traditions: his Wampanoag heritage and his African American lineage. He is known for his visual art as well as his poetry, some of which appeared in his father, Russell’s, book The Wampanoags of Mashpee. He wrote a children’s book, Da Goodie Monsta (2009), based on a story his son told him. The two poems below are...
Mwalim *7)/Morgan James Peters
In his writing, storytelling performances, and music, Mwalim blends his black and Wampanoag heritages. His CD The Liberation Sessions: Soul of the City, a concept album based on the playlists of fictional radio station WBAR (Black Ass Radio), won ten nominations at the 2010 Native American Music Awards. His book A Mixed Medicine Bag features “original Black Wampanoag folklore,” like the...
As a Narragansett Elder I am often disheartened by the history of our
relationship with the newcomers to this land. We as the Indigenous people
of this place have become marginalized in our own homeland; therefore
I come to this project with a heavy heart.
Why would one share one’s deepest feelings with those who have massacred, enslaved, indentured, and generally...
Letters to Eleazar Wheelock
The Dartmouth College Archives contains letters from at least half a dozen Narragansett people who attended that Ivy League institution’s predecessor, Moor’s Charity School in Lebanon, Connecticut. While scholars have historically played up Native writers’ deference to Moor’s founder, Eleazar Wheelock, some of these letters, like John Daniel’s, are also remarkable for their pointed criticisms of...
Thomas Commuck left his home in Charlestown in 1825, joining the second wave of Native people who moved to Brothertown, Wisconsin. According to Deloss Love, he married Hannah Abner and had ten children, and he became a prominent member of the Brothertown community, serving as its postmaster and a justice of the peace. Commuck’s “Sketch of the Brothertown Indians,” published by the...
The Narragansett Dawn
Perhaps one of New England’s most interesting tribal publications, the Narragansett Dawn may have been the first indigenous periodical in the northeast. It was published monthly between June 1935 and September 1936. The editor was Princess Red Wing, an artist and founder of the new Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum, which still serves as a tribal cultural center in Exeter, Rhode...
Ella Wilcox Sekatau
Dr. Sekatau was a respected medicine woman, ethnohistorian, and language teacher and was the tribal genealogist. She published several important Narragansett histories with Professor Ruth Wallis Herndon. In 1971 a small Rhode Island press published her chapbook Love Poems and Songs of a Narragansett Indian, from which the selections below are taken. She wrote as Ella Brown and dedicated the...
Paulla Dove Jennings
Paulla Dove Jennings is a member of the Dove family and served for many years as curator at the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum in Exeter, Rhode Island (founded by Princess Red Wing of the Narragansett Dawn, above). Jennings’s mother and father, Eleanor and Ferris Dove, ran the famous Dovecrest Restaurant next door to the museum. A respected storyteller and educator, Jennings...
Dawn Dove is a sister of Paulla Dove Jennings (above); she is also the mother of Lorén M. Spears and Eleanor Dove Harris (both below) and the grandmother of six grandsons and two granddaughters. She shares in the family mission of education, having taught history for many years in the Rhode Island public schools and devoted herself to Narragansett cultural preservation. In 1995 she founded...
John Christian Hopkins
An award-winning journalist, John Christian Hopkins has worked around the United States reporting on Indian sovereignty issues, such as the infamous police raid on the Narragansetts’ smoke shop, which he covered in August 2003 for the Pequot Times. He has published three novels: Carlomagno, a swashbuckling adventure that imagines the son of Metacomet surviving as a pirate in the West...
In 2003 Dove family member Lorén M. Spears opened the Nuweetooun (“Our Home”) School on the site of the old Dovecrest Restaurant. The school offered tribal children, K–8, a Native-centered curriculum and environment. In 2009 the school suspended operations after severe flooding in Rhode Island caused extensive damage. It did, however, create a sizable archive of student, staff, and...
Thawn Sherenté Harris, a popular storyteller in Rhode Island and beyond, lives together with his wife and their five children adjacent to their Narragansett lands, where they pass on the values and cultural lifeways of their people. He is a traditional dancer and singer and also plays the cedar flute and hand-drum. Harris received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and was the...
Eleanor Dove Harris
The daughter of Dawn Dove, and the mother of seven children of her own, Eleanor Dove Harris continues the family tradition of education and cultural preservation. A traditional dancer, she is married to Thawn Harris and, like him, is a storyteller and traditional dancer. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2006 and is now a tenth-grade advisor and teacher at East Bay Met School in...
The Pursuit of Happiness
As this chapter has suggested, Narragansett people have often written collaboratively, whether as members of a student body, or as contributors to a periodical, or as members of a family committed to educating tribal youth and the broader public. In 2005 the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum received a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Humanities to produce a lecture series and...
Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut
Stephanie M. Fielding
When Siobhan Senier, general editor of this anthology, asked me to pull
together the products of Mohegan writers, I felt ill-equipped to carry out
such a job, but then that never kept me from doing anything before . . .
and there were lots of people to help.
I’ve been writing all my life, but I haven’t lived in Mohegan all my life. In my early years, Mohegan was my...
Samson Occom has become one of the best-known early Native American writers. For a long time he was most famous for his work (and eventual conflicts) with Eleazar Wheelock, who educated him at Moor’s Charity School and then sent him to England to raise funds for the school that later became Dartmouth College. Occom documented his disenchantment with Wheelock, and the poverty he...
Like Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson studied with Eleazar Wheelock, converted to Christianity, and became a minister and teacher in Native communities. Like Occom, he has been rediscovered as a prolific early Native writer, one who produced a wealth of journals, letters, and sermons. He worked closely with Occom in founding the Brothertown movement, and he also married Occom’s...
Fidelia Ann Hoscott Fielding is remembered as the last speaker of the Mohegan language, although many tribal members today are active in language reclamation. Fielding understood the weight of that responsibility, collecting anything that that was written in Mohegan-Pequot and keeping her own language alive by writing in her diaries. In 1902 she gave her collected works, including her diaries, to...
Mary Virginia Morgan
An intriguing Connecticut public figure known as the Duchess of Noank, Mary Virginia Morgan (Goodman) wrote over five hundred newspaper articles and historical lectures. A former Groton teacher, she was civically involved with the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Indian and Colonial Research Center in Mystic. Starting in the 1970s, Morgan wrote the column “Noank Notes” for...
Gladys Tantaquidgeon, revered medicine woman, studied Mohegan traditions with such leaders as Emma Baker, Lydia Fielding, and Mercy Ann Nonesuch Mathews (Nehantic); she also studied professional anthropology with Frank Speck at the University of Pennsylvania. Speck is controversial among some Native people and anthropologists today, but in the selections below Tantaquidgeon speaks of him...
Jayne Fawcett is a lifelong resident of Uncasville and a grandmother of six. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut and a fifth-year degree from Eastern Connecticut State University. She has served as vice chair of the Mohegan Tribal Council and chair of the Mohegan Council of Elders, as tribal ambassador, and as a tour guide at Tantaquidgeon Museum. For...
Faith Damon Davison
Faith Davison claims to be a “late bloomer.” She and her youngest son received their bachelor’s degrees in the same year, but from different colleges. She has worked at a multitude of jobs—from selling live bait and pumping gas, to arranging and cataloging over one hundred thousand images that were digitized at a major American museum, to driving oxen. Having earned a master of library science...
Stephanie M. Fielding
Stephanie Fielding’s aboriginal roots are in Connecticut in the East and Hawaii in the West. She has lived and traveled all over the world, including Baton Rouge, where she wrote for five city magazines, and Denver, where she wrote for another magazine. Fielding finally settled in Mohegan, where she became determined to help resurrect the Mohegan language. To this end, she earned an MA in linguistics...
Sharon I. Maynard
Sharon I. Maynard’s Mohegan name is Accomac, which means “long view across the water.” Living in close proximity to Long Island Sound all of her life has given her an appreciation for the sea. Before serving on the tribe’s Council of Elders, Maynard spent fifteen years working on board the ferries that travel from New London, Connecticut, to Orient Point, Long Island, New York. Her writings are...
Bill Donehey grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, during the turbulent 1960s. After completing his three-year commitment to the U.S. Army in the early 1970s, Donehey drove across the country solo, writing and reading his works along the way at small-town gathering spaces and big-city open mikes. Donehey is well known as a writer at Mohegan, having been published locally, in addition to...
Joe Smith grew up in the Mohegan area of Uncasville. He is the son of Norma (Schultz) Smith and William J. Smith, grandson of Loretta F. Schultz (1900–82), and great-grandson of Chief Matahga (1862–1942). He was surrounded by a large family of Mohegan aunts, uncles, and cousins during his youth, and he served as the organist at the Mohegan Congregational Church during his high school...
Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel
Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel is the tribal historian and medicine woman for the Mohegan Tribe. After receiving a BSFS in history/diplomacy from Georgetown University and an MA in history from the University of Connecticut, she traveled throughout New England as a storyteller for the tribe. In 1992 she won the first annual nonfiction award of the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas for...
Born in Connecticut but currently living in Golden, Colorado, Troffer has worked for years in technical writing and editing. She has written for the Mercury, a newspaper based in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and for the Inner Door, a publication of the Association for Holotropic Breathwork International. At present Troffer is writing her first book, about her experiences with Somatic...
Eric Maynard is involved in many Native American cultural and community activities. He is a graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University, with a BA in English and an anthropology minor. Eric is currently enrolled in the library and information studies graduate program at the University of Rhode Island (focused on archives and special collections). His interests include Native American...
Madeline Fielding Sayet
Madeline Sayet spent her childhood in Norwich and Uncasville, Connecticut. She was brought up on stories, dreams, and humor and learned the importance of never forsaking any of those things. She spent her early years listening to the stories of her great-aunt, Mohegan medicine woman Dr. Gladys Tantaquidgeon, and her mother, current medicine woman Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel. This is...
Trudie Lamb Richmond, Ruth Garby Torres
We were very pleased to accept the request to be community coeditors of
this anthology. We have both been active participants in Indian affairs and
issues most of our adult lives, fighting for Indian rights and eliminating
stereotypes and misconceptions.
Located on the western banks of the Housatonic River in northwestern Connecticut, the Schaghticoke Reservation, established...
Howard N. Harris
Schaghticoke leaders and other tribal citizens have historically written a great many letters to authorities in other governments. Between 1925 and 1932 Howard Harris wrote several to the state of Connecticut, including the one below, which comes from Trudie Lamb Richmond’s personal papers. The superintendent, Arthur Parker, never did resolve Harris’s request to return to the reservation. The...
Irving A. Harris
Irving Harris took seriously the exhortations of his father, Howard, to take care of Schaghticoke. After he was discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 1953, he moved back into his parents’ Litchfield home. During the late 1960s and early 1970s—the heyday of the Red Power movement—he began reaching out to other tribal members, caring for the reservation’s small cemetery, and agitating with...
Trudie Lamb Richmond
Trudie Lamb Richmond has an MA in education from the Bank Street School of Education, and a MA in anthropology from the University of Connecticut. She retired in 2010 as director of public programs at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum after fifteen years. She was awarded the First People’s Fund Community Spirit award for her lifetime work as an educator and storyteller. She has served for over...
Paulette Crone-Morange was the tribal administrator/historian of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. Her mother was Catherine Elizabeth Harris, and her father was Paul Francis Velky. Active in the tribe’s long struggle for federal recognition, she held a variety of political positions, including secretary of the Tribal Council, vice chair of the Tribe, and chair of the Tribal Housing Authority. Crone-Morange...
Ruth Garby Torres
Torres received her BS in general studies with a concentration in political science from Charter Oak College, New Britain, Connecticut. She was a Connecticut state trooper for twenty years and retired when she was accepted to Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She received her MA in public administration in 2011. Torres served on the Schaghticoke Tribal Council and serves on the Advisory...
Aileen Harris McDonough
Aileen McDonough, née Aileen Harris Nagle, was born in Connecticut and learned about her Schaghticoke tradition and history from her aunt, Ruth Garby Torres, and grandmother, Adele Harris Garby. She earned her BA in English from Wesleyan University. Currently living in Rhode Island with her husband and two children, McDonough runs a writing and editorial consulting company called 3am Writers...
Wunneanatsu (“one who is good inside”) is the granddaughter of Trudie Lamb Richmond, from whom she learned Schaghticoke history and culture, and the daughter of Erin Lamb Meeches, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation councilor from 1990 to 2003. The mother of four daughters and one son, she is currently earning her degree in education, with the goal of teaching American history. She wrote...
Garry Meeches Jr.
Son of Erin Lamb Meeches and grandson of Trudie Lamb Richmond, Garry Meeches was thirteen years old when he began writing poetry. Garry is Schaghticoke on his mother’s side and Ojibwa on his father’s side. He is also a champion traditional dancer, having danced since he was five years old. Garry also loves to draw and paint, after his father, an accomplished painter. These are his first...
Page Count: 664
Publication Year: 2014
OCLC Number: 884725772
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