June 10, 2011

Pequot Lives: Almost Vanished

Mashantucket Pequot tribe's survival is focus of museum exhibition

By Brian HallenbeckA tribe with less grit than the Mashantucket Pequots would hardly be around to tell its own story--certainly not a story like "Pequot Lives: Almost Vanished," the exhibit that debuted this spring at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.

The exhibit, the first permanent one introduced at the museum since its opening in 1998, focuses on 100 years of tribal history, beginning in 1855, when the Connecticut legislature formed a committee to investigate the condition of the "Pequot Indians of Ledyard."
And:"We wanted to tell a story that hadn't been told," Jason Mancini, the museum's senior researcher, says, and the museum wanted to tell that story as dispassionately as possible. "We do have a perspective," Mancini acknowledges, "but we want people to come to their own conclusions. ... It's a much more nuanced approached to Indian history."

Through documents, artifacts and photographs--many on display for the first time--retrieved from tribal members' personal troves and the museum's archive, the exhibit illuminates the tribe's struggle to survive and maintain its identity. It would repeat that process in the 21st century in the much-better-known struggle that culminated in the tribe's gaining federal recognition, expanding its reservation and building Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Comment:  It's not clear if this exhibit addresses the controversial decision to recognize the Mashantucket Pequots based on the few remaining members. It probably should, because that's an issue many people will be curious about.

For more on the Pequots' history, see Taking Sides on Pequot Massacre and Marino Attacks Pequots and Wampanoags.

Below:  "School groups, left and below, take in the Mashantucket Pequot Museum's new exhibit 'Pequot Lives: Almost Vanished.' The show plays inside a mock-up of the historic reservation home of Martha Ann Langevin, or 'Aunt Matt,' who became a key figure during the fight for Native American rights."

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