Skip to main content

Tomaquag museum on the move

On Wednesday's show Lorén Spears joins Indian Country Today. She is the Tomaquag Museum director. Also, Holly Cook Macarro explains what's new in Washington

The Tomaquag Museum is on the move. In rural Exeter, Rhode Island, it’s a hidden gem of the region. The museum’s director Lorén Spears shares plans to partner with the University of Rhode Island to build a new museum complex that will be accessible to all. The museum was founded in 1958 and is located in an old building that was once a farmhouse and a church.

Also on the show today, Holly Cook Macarro is a partner at Spirit Rock Consulting and she is a familiar face. She’s a regular contributor to Indian Country Today explaining what’s going on in Washington.

A slice of our Indigenous world 

  • 76 tribal and urban Indian organizations sites across the country are receiving the just approved Janssen Covid-19 vaccines.

  • Texas became the biggest state to lift its mask rule, joining a rapidly growing movement by governors and other leaders across the U.S. to loosen COVID-19 restrictions despite pleas from health officials not to let their guard down just yet.

  • A student at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence Kansas is fighting for his right of the 1st amendment, freedom of speech.

  • Cherokee Nation’s Chief Chuck Hoskin is asking Jeep to stop using the Cherokee Nations name on its Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SUVs. 

Some quotes from today's show

Lorén Spears

"Tomoquag Museum is an independent nonprofit, we highlight the Narragansett, which I am a citizen of. And we also highlight tribes of southern New England in our collection. So we have a very vast collection of our cultural belongings, which is a word we use to decolonize the word artifact, and our archival collections of pictures and maps and writings and things of that nature. So we have a very extensive collection and we're really excited for more people to see more of that collection in our new facility, including having an archive research center where people that are researchers and academics and book authors and filmmakers can create their own works from this knowledge.”

"“I think we really respect our knowledge keepers, our artists, our culture bearers, and we really try to make sure that we can find funding to remunerate them. And we also advocate that when other people are reaching out for these knowledge keepers, that they're remunerating them as well because often communities of color in general are disrespected for their knowledge. That's about their community, their culture, their history in a way that they're not respected the way that quote unquote experts are. And I am saying these are the experts about our community. And so when other organizations want to reach out to them through Tomoquag Museum, we remind them of that and encourage them to be respectful of their knowledge and of their time and to elevate their gifts where they belong.”

Holly Cook Macarro 

"With the vaccine coming on, what is largely been applauded as a successful distribution in Indian Country, although, I will note there have been problem areas across the country where it has not been so equitably distributed or as quickly, but creating that new safe environment, both for the, communities surrounding tribal communities that take advantage of the gaming operations and, otherwise contribute to the tribal economies. I think this timeline, March, early May, that's only a couple of months away. I think it bodes really well for the continued economic recovery that in combination with the pending relief bill in the Senate, which contains as we've talked about that very significant infusion of new resources and relief funds”.

"It's very significant. I think that tribal economies are still recovering from the pandemic that began. We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of when everything really shut down, March 13, which is when I think maybe the last time that there was a large tribal leader gathering in Washington. Everybody went home on Thursday or Friday, and boom that's when it shut down. And many of the tribal gaming operations and other economic enterprises of the tribes were as a result, shut down as well. So across the country that slow down revenue and, these revenues not only support the local economies in many instances, they keep the tribal government operations in the black, those revenue transfers that come from the gaming operations in addition to providing the employment”.

ICT logo bridge

Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix.

Indian Country Today is a nonprofit news organization. Will you support our work? All of our content is free. There are no subscriptions or costs. And we have hired more Native journalists in the past year than any news organization ─ and with your help we will continue to grow and create career paths for our people. Support Indian Country Today for as little as $10.