Chapter 7 Read Along
November 5, 2018
Learning Through Places-Native American Place: The Tantaquidgeon Museum
November 15, 2018

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Learning Through Places

Native American Place: The Tantaquidgeon Museum


This lesson plan features the Tantaquidgeon Museum in Uncasville, Connecticut operated by the Mohegan Tribe. The museum features eastern woodlands Indian history and traditions from the Native American perspective.

Recommended Student Reading

Where I Live: Connecticut, Connecticut, chapter 2, pages 15 – 20. You may also like to have students read all or parts of

“ Uncas, the Mohegan Tribe, and the Founding of Norwich”

“The Mohegan Tribe and the New Nation”

“Medicine Woman Gladys Tantaquidgeon”

Components of the Lesson Plan

  1. Connections to the state’s social studies frameworks
  2. Classroom discussion guide and additional resources. At the end of the lesson plan, your students should be able to engage in a discussion about why the museum is important to the Mohegan tribe and how it helps to tell their story and preserve their history. Students should be able to discuss how stories and history is conveyed over multiple generations by using historic places, artifacts, and oral history.
  3. Lesson Plan, reading, and classroom activities — Native American Place: Tantaquidgeon Museum

Lesson Plan 

Discussion Guide

The Mohegan Tribal Nation’s Museum, the Tantaquidgeon Museum,
and the Ways That History Can Be Preserved

Adapted in part from “Uncasville: Tantaquidgeon Museum” by Anita Fowler, Connecticut Explored, and information from the Tantaquidgeon Museum.

Begin with an in-class discussion about how we learn history: from books, letters, oral stories, movies, on-line articles, archeology, historic places, photographs, and artifacts. What things can we do to share our history with the next generation?

Here are some questions to help guide the discussion.

  • What places reflect our history and identity? A. Our homes, our neighborhoods, our town, our houses of worship
  • How do we learn our history? A. We talk to our family members about their lives and what they remember, we look at photographs, and we learn family traditions like holiday celebrations. We can also go to a museum to see a collection of objects and images that share history.
  • What does a museum do to save our history? A. A museum is a place that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance. Many museums make these items available for public viewing.
  • What museums have you gone to? A. There are many types of museums. For example, art museums, history museums, and science museums. What types of things did they have on display? What objects do you remember from your museum visit?
  • How did the Native Americans share their history before there were written records? A. Oral history, family traditions, learning from older members of their tribe, and sharing stories about tribal objects.
  • What is oral tradition? A. Oral tradition is a where knowledge, art, ideas, and cultural practices is received, preserved, and transmitted by word of mouth from one generation to another. It can be through speech or song and may include folktales, ballads, chants, prose, or verses. It can also be through instruction in traditional methods of doing things.
  • What types of objects would you collect if you were making your own museum to tell your family’s story?


Link to Student Material

Hand out or have the students link to the student materials: For Students Native American Places: Tantaquidgeon Museum. Have them look closely and answer the questions provided. Some prompts are provided below.

Printable PDF

What do you see in the photograph?

What kind of place is this? What is it being used for?

Does it look like a museum that you have been to?

What kinds of objects have been included in the displays?

Do these objects look new or old?

Why do you think these objects are special?

Have them read about the Tantaquidgeon Museum. Ask them, “What are your wondering?”

Last, do the classroom activity. OPTIONAL: Choose or have the students choose an activity to further explore the concepts presented in the lesson plan on their own.


Construct a Dome


  1. Become a history hero! Interview your mom, dad, or other older family members about where your family came from, family traditions, and favorite family recipes. After you do the oral interview, write this important story down so it can be saved for the future. Add a photograph or drawing that illustrates your family history. Or, write a song, story, or poem about your history and perform it for your family or your class. Record it or make a video to save it for the future.
  2. Make your own museum! Look for five things around your house that would fit in a shoebox that could tell your story. Include things about your family, your school, your friends, and about you. Write a museum label for each item that says why it is important to you. What story do they tell about you? Put the shoebox, items, and the labels on exhibit at your house or in your classroom.
  3. Visit a museum about Connecticut’s First Peoples. Connecticut has three museums where you can learn about Connecticut’s Native American tribes. Two are in eastern Connecticut and one is in western Connecticut. These museums offer field trips, or visit their websites to explore Native American life. Choose a topic to research and make a poster or Powerpoint about it. Did this museum help you to understand more about Connecticut’s First People’s?

The Tantaquidgeon Museum, Uncasville

Mashantucket Pequot Museum, Mashantucket

Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington

Connections to the State Social Studies Frameworks:

The Indigenous Peoples of Connecticut

  • What are the histories of towns, landmarks, and geographical features that are named after indigenous peoples in Connecticut?
  • How have indigenous peoples affected by the history and culture of Connecticut?

GEO 3.1-3 Whatare the histories of towns, landmarks, and geographical features that are named afterindigenous peoples in Connecticut?

Human-Environment Interaction: Places, Regions, and Culture

GEO 3.4 Explainhow culture influences the way people modify and adapt to their environments.

GEO 3.5 Explain how cultural and environmental characteristics influence population distribution in specific places or regions.

Compelling question:

  • What is Connecticut’s state identity and in what ways is that identity inclusive of all residents?

Supporting questions:

  • How have indigenous peoples affected the history and culture of Connecticut?
  • How have various groups contributed to Connecticut’s identity?

Additional Resources

The Tantaquidgeon Museum is located at 1819 Route 32, Uncasville. It is operated by the Mohegan Tribe and tours are conducted by Mohegan Tribal members.

Connecticut Explored

“Uncasville: The Tantaquidgeon Museum” by Anita Folwer

“Native American Oystering” by Dave Naumec

Native American Cuisine Saves the Colonists

Native American Cuisine Saves the Colonists

The Story of Trail of Voices

Living Rituals: Mohegan Wigwam Festival

Mohegan Federal Recognition

Medicine Woman Gladys Tantaquidgeon and Mohegan Cultural Renewal

Native Americans

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