LEDYARD, Conn. (WTNH)– There is a proposal for the upcoming legislative session to require Native American Studies in school. Right now, it is not required despite the rich history of several recognized tribes.
Rodney Butler, the Tribal Chair of the Mashantucket Pequots, says “Connecticut itself is an historical name, it’s the long tidal river its an Algonquin name from my ancestors.”
Butler says Connecticut’s five Native American tribes have a long and at times disturbing history that every student should be taught.
“The Treaty of Hartford essentially said Pequots could no longer exist, your language can no longer be spoken and remaining Pequots are now going to be slaves,” added Butler.
Senator Cathy Osten is the bill’s sponsor.
Democratic Senator Cathy Osten, from Sprague, says, “What we should be teaching to the next generation so they understand and are not thinking that Native Americans are associated with mascots at sports games, or John Wayne movies.”
Lawmakers are receptive – the state’s largest teachers union the Connecticut Education Association is too.
For Chairman Butler it’s about understanding not only the history of his Pequots, but of all tribes.
Their strength as a people and willingness to allow the state to survive.
With all of the movements to tear down statutes, Butler was in agreement that there are a few missing from the State Capitol Complex in Hartford.
“Certainly, there should be some representation of the native American History of Connecticut, the native roots of Connecticut on the capitol building,” said Butler.
Ironically, etched on the front of the state Capitol is a depiction of the bloody, massacre of The Mashantucket Pequots by colonialist commander John Mason.
Proponents of the bill say if it’s important enough to put it on the building, it’s important enough to teach it in the classroom.