Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Little History




“Native people’s histories and stories have been told by others – rather dispassionately at times and not always with accuracy. Something is missing when we cannot and do not know our true past. Something is terribly wrong when our past is not accurately recounted,” Trudie Lamb Richmond writes in Enduring Traditions; the Native Peoples of New England, edited by Laurie Weinstein.
A Schagticoke elder, Trudie Lamb Richmond gave me a copy of that book many years ago when she worked at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT. She now works at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center on the other side of Connecticut from where I live; I haven’t seen her or talked to her in a long time.
The IAIS was twenty minutes from my house; I used to stop by there once in a while with photos and videos and talk about the stonework I was finding, how it fit together in a picture of a cultural landscape, how it hinted of a culture that seemed to be more sophisticated than is portrayed even at the place she now works.

She once asked me what I’d like to do with all this information.
I didn’t really know back then and I think I mumbled something dumb.
Today I know the answer. If she asked me again, I’d say, “I’d love to accurately change the picture of the prehistory of Indians in the northeast.”
I’d like to recreate the place I know, filling in the picture with the stonework I think connected it all together, from the village to the fields, to the swamps and springs, to the rivers, to the fish weir, to the forests and all the many other places I’ve gone to by following the remnants of these stones.

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