BY G. WAYNE MILLER
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
EXETER — In an initiative that should further extend its reach into the larger community, the Tomaquag Museum in January will launch an ongoing series of videos and podcasts profiling Native American arts and artists.
The series, “Indigenous Artways,” will be narrated by Lorén Spears, the museum’s executive director and a prominent educator and storyteller. It comes as part of a campaign to raise the museum’s profile headed by new marketing
associate Michael Johnson.
“This is an important opportunity to expand our audience, impact public perception of Indigenous people today, and share our history and culture,” said Spears. “We are very excited.”
The series debuts on Jan. 25 with five episodes detailing the origins and construction of dream catchers. Spears will demonstrate and narrate, with volunteer Lydia Rogers responsible for filming and production. The next five episodes will include interviews with five Narragansett Indian artists filmed by Lynsea Montanari, a Narragansett, in partnership with Dana Neugent, media supervisor at the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston campus.
Future episodes will feature additional artists, along with musicians and storytellers from throughout the region, including nationally known Narragansett storyteller and author Paulla Dove Jennings.
While the Tomaquag Museum’s principal holdings preserve and celebrate the culture and traditions of the Narragansetts, its collection includes archival material from several other Native American tribes. “Indigenous Artways” will have a similarly wider scope.
“It is a wonderful way to share to a wider audience the Indigenous arts of southern New England tribes such as the Narragansett, Wampanoag, Mohegan and Pequot,” Spears said.
“Viewers can expect deeply engaging content,” Johnson said.
The video and podcast series comes as Spears and the museum board continue planning for a new home to replace what is now an outdated and overcrowded wood-frame building that once was someone’s home. With the help of a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a master plan has been completed, and a new location is being sought. Continued fundraising and architectural design are among the tasks for 2015, Spears said.
The museum closed its fall season in December with the celebration of Nikommo, one of the Narragansett’s 13 traditional thanksgivings. The Winter Moon Celebration included music, a ceremony, and a book signing of “Dawnland Voices,” an anthology of New England Indian literature.
During the winter, the museum, at 390 Summit Rd., near the state’s Arcadia Management Area, is open by appointment only. Warmer-weather hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
The “Indigenous Artways” series will be free, but the museum will “graciously accept donations,” Spears said. Proceeds will help support not only the videos, but overall museum programming and planning for the museum’s eventual new home.
For more information, visit www.tomaquagmuseum.org/podcasts/
The Tomaquag Museum YouTube channel is http://bit.ly/1xh7jF8
On Twitter: @gwaynemiller