Big things happening for a little museum with a big mission!
Tomaquag “Belonging(s)” Blog
“A close relationship among a group and personal or public effects”
Hello and “Kunoopeam” (Welcome)!
It has been very, I mean very busy at Tomaquag. So busy in fact that we did not publish a blog post last month. Please accept our apology with the caveat that it will probably happen again. Big things are happening for us, and although everything is a priority, sometimes we have to choose one task over the other. On a personal note, this is the second small museum I have worked for, the first being in a volunteer position. It takes energy, passion, and a team mentality to get things done. At times closely resembling a family structure. I have a lot of admiration for our nation's small gems. Please find a way to support them! Whether it is through volunteering or financial support. They hold some of this country's most important historical and cultural assets that we cannot afford to lose. So are you ready to see what we have been doing? Let's go!
On April 19 the Tomaquag Museum became a recipient of the 2016 National Medal for Museums and Library Services. This is the nation's highest honor given to ten museums or libraries for service to their communities. We also received support from the Rhode Island Foundation’s Centennial Community Grants program part of a series of activities to mark the Foundation’s 100th anniversary this year. Funding will allow us to create a weekly Children’s Hour that will teach the history and culture of the Narragansett Tribal Nation through music, dance and storytelling.
Our team and partners continue to work diligently on our project funded by Third Sector New England (TSNE) and its Inclusion Initiative grant making program. TSNE’s Inclusion Initiative Planning Project will forge a network to help eradicate poverty within the Native Community through Tomaquag Museum’s Indigenous Empowerment Initiative (IEI). Meet our new team member who plays an instrumental role in the project below.
For more Tomaquag Museum News go to http://www.tomaquagmuseum.org/news/.
Please help me welcome our newest team members:
Silvermoon Mars LaRose is a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe and is our Assistant Director. Before this, she was the DVPI (Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative) Assistant at the Narragansett Indian Health Center, Direct Care Worker at the Frank Olean Center, and Program Manager for a Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Silvermoon has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Rhode Island and 30 credits towards a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling from Western Washington University. She is a traditional art hobbyist, writer, storyteller, and mother. Silvermoon is responsible for creating systems that promote improved efficiency throughout the museum as well as new fund development. She manages our museum store, supports tours, leads our annual campaign and coordinates new programming.
Samantha Cullen-Fry is a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe and is the new Communications & Documentation Coordinator here at Tomaquag Museum. Before this she spent many years in sales management until she had the amazing opportunity, for two and a half years, to be a stay at home mama for her two beautiful daughters. Now ready to get back into the workforce she has decided to come to Tomaquag to be our new coordinator for the Indigenous Empowerment Network. Her role is to help facilitate relationships, through museum partnerships, that will create a catalyst for economic change within the Native Community.
As far as collections, we just finished work on two grants that helped the museum bring in two consultants. Ani Rivera, President of Archival Matters, Inc created 37 specialty storage boxes for oversized belonging(s) in the collection. He also built a work and storage table that freed up space in collections storage. We are grateful to the Champlin Foundation for funding this project. Alexandra Allardt, Principal of ArtCare Resources, conducted a much needed Preservation Assessment that resulted in a 5-year Preservation Plan. We are grateful to the Nation Endowment for Humanities Preservation Assessment Program (NEH PAG) for funding this project.
Stewardship of collections is one of the most important responsibilities that a museum has and in many cases it is its most important function. Everything we do from education and fundraising to security is or should be tied directly to the collection.
According to the American Alliance of Museums (AAM): “Stewardship is the careful, sound and responsible management of that which is entrusted to a museum’s care. Possession of collections incurs legal, social and ethical obligations to provide proper physical storage, management and care for the collections and associated documentation, as well as proper intellectual control. Collections are held in trust for the public and made accessible for the public’s benefit. Effective collections stewardship ensures that the objects the museum own, borrows, holds in its custody and/or uses are available and accessible to present and future generations. A museum’s collections are an important means of advancing its mission and serving the public.”
One of the responsibilities of the Tomaquag Museums Collection Manager is to protect the collections from the 10 agents of deterioration. They include:
Thieves and Vandals
Light, Ultraviolet, and Infrared
Based on the recommendation made in the Preservation Plan, we are working on obtaining funding for a project that will strengthen and sustain our Collections Care and Risk Mitigation program to address issues associated with the 10 agents of deterioration.
Ongoing work in the Collections Management Department includes rehousing and accessioning belonging(s) into the collections and data entry in our PastPerfect Collections Database. We are also in the final stages of completing our Collections Management Policy Manual and Disaster Preparedness Plan. We are hoping for Board approval by the end of June.
In closing, sometimes materials meant for archives find their way to me in Collections Storage. Personally, I think they just like being around me even though they know they don’t belong in my area. Every once in a while, they demand my attention like cats who walk across your computer keys or knock stuff off shelves. So I decided to give it some attention.
I have three of the seventeen issues of The Narragansett Dawn bothering me. In all seriousness, although they are archival I still have the responsibility of protecting them until we obtain funds for an archivist. The Narragansett Dawn was a monthly newspaper published from 1935-1936. It was founded by Princess Redwing and Ernest Hazard, both members of the Narragansett Tribe. The newspaper “Published Monthly in the interest of The Narragansett Tribe" focused on the language, culture, religion, politics, and daily life of members of the Narragansett Tribe. In many instances, tribal members contributed material to the newspaper. The following was sent in by Ella W. Wilcox. It is a recipe for a Turtle Dinner written by Tahoma. For your enjoyment:
One good-sized turtle, cut out of the shell, soak in salt and water overnight. Parboil in salt and water until tender. Dredge in salt, pepper and Paprika. Dip in beaten eggs then cracker crumbs. Fry in deep fat until brown. Serve on a hot platter with gravy. Make gravy with melted butter, flour, lemon juice, kitchen bouquet, and water. Serve with—-Baked potatoes, buttered onions(boiled), string beans and horseradish.
The turtle can be removed from the shell without harming the shell which can be used for dishes. This requires an experienced person. The claws are used to decorate clothes and the broth makes good soup.
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. We welcome guest bloggers, and topics relevant to Native American Museums and Indian Country, especially those located in the New England area.
American Alliance of Museums: “Collections Stewardship: Standards Regarding Collections Stewardship”. http://www.aam-us.org/resources/ethics-standards-and-best-practices/collections-stewardship
Tahoma. Turtle Dinner. Narragansett Dawn, August 1935. Vol 1 No. 4. Oakland, RI. p 94.