Welcome to the Belongings Blog!
Tomaquag “Belonging(s)” Blog
“A close relationship among a group and personal or public effects”
Happy New Year and “Kunoopeam” (Welcome)!
The Tomaquag “Belonging(s)” Blog, is a monthly conversation dedicated to the happenings, musings of staff, and a peek at the collections of the Tomaquag Museum. As the Tomaquag or the “T” as I affectionately like to call it continues to grow and evolve, we hope to include images, guest bloggers, and topics relevant to Native American Museums, especially those located in the New England area.
Here’s a few tidbits about the museum. Located in Exeter, RI, the mission of Tomaquag is to educate the public and promote thoughtful dialogue regarding Indigenous history, culture, arts and Mother Earth and connect to Native issues of today. The museum was co-founded by anthropologist Eva Butler and Princess Redwing (more about these fascinating women and others in the future). Tomaquag has been in existence for over 50 years and is the only museum in the state dedicated to the history of Rhode Island’s Native American peoples.
The current staff consists of three dedicated or from my most recent observation, the most optimistic, forward-looking and thinking folks of this “little gem that could”.
Our fearless leader of the Tomaquag Museum is Lorén Spears, a member of the Narragansett tribe. She is an accomplished educator, artist and writer. She is also the former director and founder of the Nuweetooun School. Previously located next door to the museum, this private, state-certified school was dedicated to educating K-8 Native children. Lorén spends her days taking care of the day-to-day operations of the museum, providing in-house and traveling educational programming, and searching for vital funding opportunities. She is the “chief, cook and bottle washer” and is known for explaining things to her staff through storytelling, with a “get err dun” attitude. If you wish to find out more about Lorén she has her own Wikipedia page.
Michael E. Johnson is a member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and is the Tomaquag Museum’s marketing and IT Guru. He is also the Heavy Lifter and Reacher of things on high shelves. Mike is the former Director of his tribes Creative Arts Department which specialized in graphic design and video post-production. He is the owner of Single Feather Media, a digital communications company. He also hosts the “Indigenous Peoples Music” podcast and the “Native Opinion” podcast. More recently Mike envisioned and created “Indigenous Artways!” as part of our initiative to use digital and social media as a tool to reach a broader audience. This video podcast learning series, led by Lorén, focuses on Native American art, its history and meaning. Mike had a quirky sense of humor and is an “Apple” guy who is not afraid to let anyone know it.
Me? You met me a few weeks ago. As a brief re-introduction I am Kimberly Peters, Tomaquag Collections Manager with a bit of Registrar, Curator, Archivist and Librarian thrown in for good measure. I am a member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the former Executive Director of the Pequot Museum. A few of you will remember me as Kimberly Hatcher-White. I also spent many years behind the scenes working with the museum’s collection. Although I enjoyed my time overseeing the museum, my heart always remained with caring for these precious belongings. After taking some time off, I decided I wanted to get back to doing work that I enjoyed and found fulfilling. I enjoy caring for museum collections in general however, I am interested in collections of Eastern Woodland tribes, especially those in Southern New England. I have a particular fascination with these objects because of their ability to speak and tell their own stories. It’s just a matter of listening closely. I am also the writer/manager of this blog, which is my first attempt at blogging. So I pretty much am hoping I don’t mess things up or bore you to death. Look for upcoming “Belonging(s)” blogs, which will include more about Tomaquag and various topics such as grant work, a peek at some special collections and my work with our collections database PastPerfect or “PastPerfect Is Working On My Last Nerve”! LOL!
Kutaputush (Thank You)