2017 Honoring Dinner Honorees





Dale Carson, Abenaki

Life Time Achievement Award  

Dale Carson (Abenaki) is a celebrated author, artist and educator who was born and raised in coastal Rhode Island.  Her parents were artists, whose rich collection of books and artwork influenced her artistic tendencies at an early age. As a painter and craftsperson, Dale has owned two retail shops featuring Native American goods, paintings, supplies and antiques.

Dale’s Abenaki upbringing has exposed her to the Indigenous foodways that would inspire her many cookbooks, including Native New England Cooking and New Native American Cooking. In addition, she has also written numerous short stories and Native food and cooking columns for three Native American publications including the Eagle Wing Press, Indian Country Today, and Indian Life.  She served as a board member of the Institute for American Indian Studies, dedicated to the preservation of indigenous history and is a founder of the Hammonasset Festival which celebrates Indigenous culture and gives honor to the natural world.  

Dale has dedicated her lifetime to the sharing of indigenous education, opening both her heart and home to others, impacting generations of young people through the sharing of her cultural knowledge.  She currently lives in Madison, Connecticut near Hammonasset State Beach with her husband William Carson in a 200 year old farmhouse with their four children and grandchildren nearby.

Robert Shumate, Narragansett

Eleanor Dove Entrepreneur Award

Robert Shumate, Narragansett, is being honored for his entrepreneurial spirit. Robert, who is proud of his indigenous ancestry, descends from the line of King Philip.  His mother, Rosalind Grace Noka Shumate, was an only child with few immediate relatives around during Robert’s childhood. Therefore, a lot of time was spent visiting the Dove family and credits the time he spent growing up with them as having a big impact on his strong work ethic. 

He has dedicated his life to growing a small family business, the Pier Ice Plant Inc., which reached its 50th year of operation in 2016 and which continues to serve Rhode Island as one of the top ice manufacturers in the area. 

Along with supplying packaged ice to numerous businesses throughout the year, Robert has for the past 30 years created a tradition of carving ice sculptures for two locations in South County. Starting with four 300 pound ice blocks, he carves the four numerals of the New Year. These ice sculptures which are displayed every New Year’s Eve at the Narragansett Rotary and the Dale Carlia Corner in Wakefield provide enjoyment for families and friends. This act of giving back to the community gives Robert much pride. 

Laughing Woman- Mashantucket Pequot

Red Wing Arts & Culture Award

Laughing Woman Patrick, Mashantucket Pequot, is being honored as a culture bearer through her gifts as an award winning musician and composer, language keeper, and spiritual leader of the Mashantucket Western Pequot Tribal Nation.  

Laughing Woman graduated from the Psychiatric Nursing School at Norwich State Hospital and has studied at the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford. In 2003, she was awarded a Native American Music Award (NAMA) for Best Folk/Country Artist.  

With a passion for historic preservation, she has spent years fighting to preserve and protect Native American grave sites. Her service in the tribal community has included working alongside the late Pastor Eagle Wings Patrick, her beloved husband, sharing at the All Nations Christian Fellowship at MPTN. She has also served as Vice Chair of the MPTN Elder’s Council. In her own words, “I have always been very proud of my Native American heritage and I’ve lived it each and every day.”  

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Jessie "Little Doe" Baird-Mashpee Wampanoag

Ellison"Tarzan"Brown Champion Award

Jessie Little Doe Baird, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, is the vice-chairwoman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council with a long history of engagement and leadership in the Wampanoag community. She is a member of the Wampanoag Women’s Medicine Society, was a commissioner of the Mashpee Housing Authority, and works with Mukayuhsak Weekuw, an immersion Preschool and Kindergarten funded by the Administration for Native American’s Esther Martinez Language Program. She also directs Pâhshaneekamuq, a charter school planning project funded by the Administration for Native Americans. She has lectured at many colleges and universities and advises other tribal communities on language planning, reconstruction, and curriculum development. 

Jessie Little Doe earned her master of science degree in linguistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000. While at MIT, she partnered with Kenneth Locke Hale, a linguist and activist for the preservation of endangered languages, to develop a Wampanoag-English dictionary.  As a linguist whose work as co-founder and program director of the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project she is reclaiming the language and cultural heritage of the Wampanoag people. In 2010 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her pioneering efforts to reestablish the language of her Wampanoag Algonquian ancestors. 

Jessie Little Doe has received a Social Science Doctorate Honoris Causa from Yale University, National Science Foundation funding as a Documenting Endangered Languages Fellow, and is a member of the American Antiquarian Society and a Commissioner on American Academy of Arts and Science Commission on Language Learning.

Mellissa Tantaquideon Zobel Mohegan

Eva Butler Scholar Award

Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel,  Ôsowunáw, born in 1960, grew up on the Connecticut homestead of Mohegan writer, educator and minister, Reverend Samson Occom. From an early age. she gave tours at Tantaquidgeon Museum, then run by her great-aunt and great uncle, Medicine Woman Gladys Tantaquidgeon and Chief Harold Tantaquidgeon who trained her in tribal oral tradition, traditional lifeways, and spiritual beliefs.

Melissa earned a B.S.F.S. in history/diplomacy from Georgetown University, an M.A. in history from the University of Connecticut and an M.F.A. from Fairfield University in creative writing. As a young adult, she worked as Mohegan Federal Recognition Coordinator, researching and organizing her tribe’s bid for acknowledgment. She was appointed tribal historian in 1991 and Medicine Woman in 2008. Her awards include an Emmy for the movie, “The Mark of Uncas”, and the Alaskan Federation of Natives National Essay Award.

Zobel’s writing on Native issues has been a constant in her life. In 1992, she won the first annual Non-Fiction Award of the Native Writer’s Circle of the Americas, for her historical manuscript The Lasting of the Mohegans. Shortly after that, Zobel became the first American Indian appointed to the Connecticut Historical Commission. In 1996, she received her tribe’s first annual Chief Little Hatchet Award, granted for her contributions to her nation’s success and survival. An established author, Zobel has written numerous books, guest columns and journal articles sharing indigenous stories, both traditional and contemporary, poetry, and perspective from a first person point of view.