HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Teaching the history and culture of Native Americans is the goal of a new partnership between the state of Connecticut and the five recognized tribes.
Native American history is Connecticut history. Even the name Connecticut is an Algonquin word for “long tidal river,” but that history has not always been taught correctly.
“In the midst of my teaching career, I became very frustrated teaching American history and social studies that lacked the voice of indigenous, native people,” Beth Regan, the vice chair of the Mohegan Tribe.
Connecticut’s five recognized tribes are working together with state educators to create a curriculum to teach kindergarten through 12th-grade students the real history.
“Not through the colonizers’ voice, but the voices that have been left out to tell our true, tragic, yet also very wonderful history, in many ways,” Regan said.
One of the most tragic is etched on the front of the capitol building. It’s the massacre of the Mashantucket Pequots following what was called the Treaty of Hartford.
“The Treaty of Hartford also represents one of the very few documented cases of state-sanctioned genocide in American history or anywhere else,” said Michael Thomas of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
If you didn’t know that piece of history, that’s the reason the legislature passed the bill to create this curriculum. The legislation requires school districts to include Native American studies as part of the social studies curriculum starting with the 2023-24 school year.
“The people that were here first had developed cultures and religions and governments, that we need to recognize that and give them the respect that has been long overdue,” said State Sen. Catherine Osten (D-19th District).
That curriculum will be available to everyone, so even homeschoolers can learn the real history of Connecticut. Some of the research is already underway. You can see some of it on the Native Northeast Portal.