November 5, 2015
MASHPEE, MA—“Our” Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History, an educational and cultural exhibit launched in November 2014 to international acclaim, will unveil a new theme on Thursday November 12th at a 5:30pm reception at the Mashpee Wampanoag Government Center, where the exhibit will remain through January 8, 2016. This traveling, multi-media exhibit is part of the Signature Events and Programs of Plymouth 400, Inc., the organization planning the international 400th anniversary commemoration of the 1620 Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony.
“Debuting this chapter of “Our”Story here in Mashpee where it was created is a special thrill for all of us involved in producing it,” said Paula Peters, a Mashpee Wampanoag tribe member and executive producer of the exhibit. “The team did an incredible job creating the graphics and back story and once again we had complete control over the content; this truly is our story. I’m especially looking forward to the reaction of the local audience to the two and a half minute video featuring two Mashpee Wampanoag men who demonstrate the messenger tradition in the clip with an unexpected ending.”
Plymouth 400 is proud to present “Our”Story as it brings to light key legacies of America’s earliest beginnings from the Wampanoag perspective. Told in the Native voice, this exhibit received widespread media attention since its debut for its honest and powerful approach to highlighting pieces of indigenous history that are commonly left out of the storied version of the founding of Plymouth Colony and the building of America.
“Our”Story opened last year with “Captured 1614” featuring a critical back story to colonization and the roots of the American holiday, Thanksgiving. “The Messenger Runner” will add new context regarding the Wampanoag tribe’s historic traditions and territory. Visitors to the exhibit will learn about how members of the Tribe were chosen, based upon their endurance and their capacity for memory, to run to neighboring villages and territories to deliver essential messages.
The creation of this exhibit aligns with Plymouth 400’s mission to create a commemoration that is historically accurate and culturally inclusive, as indigenous peoples have faced misrepresentation and even omission from previous anniversary events, including the 350th anniversary of Plymouth in 1970 during which the speech of Wamsutta (Frank) James of the Wampanoag Tribe was censored, ultimately resulting in the Day of Mourning demonstrations which take place each Thanksgiving as a reminder of the harsh realities of the treatment of Native peoples and the continued misrepresentation of their histories.
Plymouth 400 commissioned a Native design team to create “Our”Story to ensure that the exhibit was thoroughly representative of the history of New England’s indigenous peoples. The Indian Spiritual and Cultural Training Council Inc. and SmokeSygnals Marketing and Communications conceptualized, researched, and produced “Our”Story, and members of the Mashpee Wampanoag and Aquinnah Wampanoag tribes portrayed historical figures for the exhibit.
“The impacts of colonization still ripple through our people’s blood pulse, especially the profound sense of loss. The tribal experience of kidnap, removal, capture, leaves a void no matter how long ago the taking,” says Ramona Peters, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO).
“Each November through 2020, a time when we reflect upon America’s Thanksgiving traditions and how they began, we will unveil these new exhibit panels highlighting little-known information on Wampanoag history and culture. Perceptions from Plymouth’s earliest period became etched into the American story when President Lincoln used the iconic symbol of the Wampanoag people and English colonists feasting together in 1621 as a representation of cooperation as he proclaimed our national holiday, Thanksgiving,” said Michele Pecoraro, Executive Director of Plymouth 400, Inc. “Plymouth 400 is committed to creating a commemoration that is historically accurate, which means addressing realities of the story that don’t reflect the simplified and often inaccurate depictions of the First Thanksgiving. This exhibit is intended to create conversations around these crucial realities in our history in an informative and authentic way, honoring the contributions of both cultures and recognizing the complexities of their relationship.”
The opening reception for “Our”Story’s new panels will take place at 5:30 pm at the Mashpee Wampanoag Government Center in Mashpee, Massachusetts. At the reception, attendees will hear from Paula Peters and Ramona Peters, as well as Michele Pecoraro about the making of this acclaimed exhibit and its importance to both the Wampanoag Tribe and to the Plymouth 400 Commemoration.
“Our”Story was displayed at both Mashpee and Aquinnah Powwows this summer, in addition to several museums and libraries throughout the region. It received international media attention upon its debut for telling “the story of Squanto, and the millions he represents” (Public Radio International) and for “changing Thanksgiving’s history” (The Boston Globe). Additional pieces of indigenous history will be added to the exhibit, which will continue to travel throughout the region through 2020. For more information on this exhibit, visit www.plymouth400inc.org
About Plymouth 400, Inc.
Plymouth 400, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization formed to lead the planning and execution of programs and events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony in 2020. The Plymouth 400 Anniversary will highlight the cultural contributions and American traditions that began with the interaction of the Wampanoag and English peoples, a story that significantly shaped the building of America.
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November 5, 2015