RIPR's Chuck Hinman talks to Loren Spears, Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, and Christian Hopkins, community member. They traveled to Washington, DC, to receive the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, at a ceremony at the White House hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, RI, was honored on Wednesday morning in a ceremony at The White House hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. The museum's Executive Director, Loren Spears, said the institution was among 10 finalists for a 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest honor a museum or library can receive for its service. The medal comes with a $5,000 grant.
Spears said the Tomaquag Museum works hard to preserve the indigenous culture of the Narragansett Indians, for the Indians themselves and for sharing with the community at large.
"Even though we're a small institution in a rural area, we wanted to have a strong and vibrant impact on sharing indigenous culture and history and the arts throughout the region," Spears said.
Spears accepted the National Medal award along with Christian Hopkins, a Narragansett Indian who described how he benefited personally from the museum's programs.
"Being a part of Tomaquag Museum exposed me to a lot of traditions, stories and oral histories," said Hopkins. "The museum has been a very integral part of my learning experience."
The Tomaquag Museum was founded in 1958, and is the only museum in Rhode Island entirely dedicated to state’s indigenous peoples. It's also the only Rhode Island museum operated by Native people. The museum is located in historic Arcadia Village in Exeter.