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EXETER â Tomaquag Museum recently announced the completion of a curriculum, geared for middle schools, to give the history and significance behind some of the Narragansett and Niantic tribesâ stories and legends.
The curriculum, available to public, private and even home schools, is based on the film âPlaces, Memories, Stories and Dreams: the Gifts of Inspiration,â and tells six traditional Native American stories by Paulla Dove Jennings, a nationally known storyteller.
âEach story has its own moral and lesson. The [Schoolhouse Pond: Narragansett John Onion] teaches to not be boastful, but also about the uses of the land and the pond, not only in the past but through today,â said LorĂ©n Spears, the director at Tomaquag.
The traditional story of John Onion takes place during the Indian schoolhouse time period in the middle of winter; John Onion is a great skater but is âso boastfulâ of his skills that he claims he could outskate the devil. In the end, he hangs up his skates forever, explained Spears.
âItâs a story where someone goes a little too far but there is so much more behind it,â she said, adding that âthere is the history of the schoolhouse, the pond and the use of the land, which is what we are focused on in the curriculum.â
The curriculum tells six stories: âNarragansett Indian Church: The Nikkomo Piece,â âThe Last Hunt: Woodchuck Inspirations,â âSchool house Pond: Narragansett John Onion,â âDeep Pond: The Boys Who Over Fish,â âAugust Meeting Grounds: Fancy Danceâ and âGreat Swamp: Spirit Voices.â According to Spearsâ recollection, both fact and fiction is woven into each of the traditional tales.
âSomeoneâs interpretation of John Onion may have had a real person in it at some point. Whether itâs a true story or not, I couldnât tell you,â said Spears. However, they âall incorporate real history within them.â
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