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Thread: People Worth Learning About

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    People Worth Learning About

    We've been reading so much bad news lately that I thought it was time for a thread providing (I hope) some uplift. I keep a list of courageous souls of all kinds, and I often look at it for sustenance. Last night I was thinking about Grace and Lee Lorch. They're proof that people of impressive accomplishment and even heroism often operate under the radar.

    Lee Lorch was a mathematician who began his work before World War II. After the war, he took action to integrate his apartment complex, which had a "no black tenants" policy. (In New York City! It wasn't just the South that had such laws. Dixie just had many more of them.) Because there was no law protecting civil rights protesters, he was fired from his university position as a math professor. Most other universities wouldn't hire him. He began work at Fisk University in Tennessee, one of the finest of the historically black colleges started during Reconstruction. They had to fire him when he was interrogated by the House Un-American Activities Committee because they suspected him of communist affiliations at some point in his youth. This is how he ended up in Philander Smith College, a small black college in Little Rock, Arkansas.Then came the year when Central High School was officially integrated. Nine African American students had to show up on the first day of school. They arranged to meet at a site off campus and arrived together, with escorts. But one student, Elizabeth Eckford, didn't have a home phone. She showed up at the school alone.

    A huge and fierce crowd of anti-integrationists had massed before the school. Eckford quickly found herself surrounded. The only one who came to help her was Lee Lorch's wife, Grace, who had been dropping off her daughter at another school. Grace stayed with Elizabeth and got her home.

    Because of that action and the Lorches' public support of integration, they were threatened and harassed. Dynamite was put in their garage. They realized they were endangering their college's funding, so Lorch resigned. He was unable to find other work in the United States, so the family moved to Canada, where he worked in several colleges as a professor thereafter. In the following years, when laws changed in the U.S., Lorch was honored by many of the institutions that had turned him away earlier. Lorch continued his work teaching and doing mathematical research.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    That is a truly lovely & inspiring story!

    I've got an idea for another submission to this thread, but I've got to write it up properly.

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    I look forward to seeing it, Doris!

    If anyone else has someone to contribute, come on in!

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    Good one, O. Looking forward to Hearing Doris' story as well as others. At the moment I am drawing a blank as I've just been struggling with an English-to-Spanish translation but give me time.

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    Scruff, maybe I'm being cliched about Canada, but there's always Terry Fox or Stan Rogers to start off with. But I bet you'll think of someone else as soon as your brain rebounds, and of course it doesn't have to be Canadian. One person I'm thinking of adding to our group list is Chiune Sugihara of Japan.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    I'm sorry that I inadvertently stirred up interest-my problem is how to tell a story that has had repercussions for almost 200 years in a short, coherent post-frankly, I'm nost that skilled, so I'll just blatt the story out, and hope it isn't impossible to follow.

    The people in question are the Huntington family & the Tantaquidgeon family of southeastern Connecticut. The Huntington's are the family of Samuel Huntington, the president of the Continental Congress when the Articles of Confederation were signed. Some people argue that he was the real first president of the United States rather than George Washington. The Tantaquidgeons were a prominent family in the Mohegan tribe. Over the years, various relatives have been chiefs and wise women of renown. The families had a long history of friendship and mutually beneficial trading.

    In the first part of the nineteenth century, there was continual political agitation against the Native American tribes of the East. In fact, in 1830, President Jackson and Congress passed The Indian Removal Act. The main targets of this act were the Five Civilized Nations of the South, but it applied to all Native Americans east of the Mississippi. Non-Christian Indians living east of the Mississippi were forced to leave their homes and go West on what is now called the Trail of Tears. This era in American history is one of our most despicable, and was a venture into what must be called, I think, genocide.

    Both the Huntingtons and the Tantaquidgeons wanted the Mohegan tribe to stay in southeastern Connecticut, but they had to solve the difficult problem of how to make the Mohegans appear Christian without losing their history or their culture. Here's how they did it. They decided the Mohegans needed a church that was exclusively their own. In 1827, land for the church was deeded to the Mohegan Tribe by Lucy Occom Tantaquidgeon, her daughter Lucy Tantaquidgeon Teecomwas, and her granddaughter Cynthia Teecomas Hoscoat. Money to build the church was raised by Sarah Huntington, a missionary, and she actively opposed the removal of the Mohegans.

    Sarah enlisted the help of her relative Congressman Jabez W. Huntington, to support the Tribe’s right to remain in Connecticut. The completion in 1831 of the Mohegan church was key in exempting the Mohegans from the Indian Removal Act.

    However, the church was more than just a Christian church. The minister for the church was always "borrowed" from nearby Congregational Churches, but the spiritual continuity of the Mohegan tribe was handled by the church's Women's Sewing Circle. In fact, a legacy of preserving Mohegan language, culture and history was one of the primary purposes of the church.

    The Tantaquidgeon family has continued this legacy to the current day. In 1931, Chief Harald Tantaquidgeon built the first Native American owned and operated museum to preserve the Mohegan way of life.

    Here's what Gladys Tantaquidgeon had to say about the museum:
    The oldest Indian owned and operated museum in America, Gladys Tantaquidgeon along with her brother, Harold and father John, built in 1931.
    "Father and brother Harold built the little stone original museum that was begun in 1930 and completed and opened in 1931. The purpose of this little stone room was to house our collection of various artifacts that had been made and used by our people and were scattered about our living quarters here and there so that not only our own people could enjoy them but others as well ... Father was disabled at the time, and he had to use a cane, and he was blind in one eye. But according to what my brother said, I guess he handled every one of the granite fieldstones used in the construction of that building ... When it was finally completed members of the community and other Mohegans brought in things to put on display ... From the beginning, Tantaquidgeon Museum was to be the place where we keep Mohegan treasures." Gladys Tantaquidgeon.
    Gladys herself is one of Connecticut's most outstanding women.


    http://www.cwhf.org/inductees/educat...tantaquidgeon/

    Gladys Tantaquidgeon grew up steeped in the traditions of her Mohegan tribe. In a remarkable life that spanned three centuries, she was credited with the preservation of the Mohegan tribal language and customs in Connecticut. Nationally, she was known as an expert in the restoration of cultural practices and was sought after by western tribes to aid in preservation efforts.

    Tantaquidgeon was born in 1899, a descendant of the first Sachem Uncas and niece of Emma Fielding Baker, who became her mentor and educated her in tribal spirituality and herbal medicine. In 1919, she began studying anthropology with Dr. Frank Speck at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by field work among northwestern tribes. In 1934, she was hired by the United States government to work on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota. Later she worked to promote Indian art for the Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Board in the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming. Her duties involved the organization of Indian cooperatives and research and preservation of ancient Indian artistic techniques.

    After concluding her government service in 1947, she returned to Uncasville, Conn., where she joined her father, John, and brother, Harold, as the full-time curator of the Tantaquidgeon Indian Museum, which she had co-founded in 1931. The museum, which housed native artifacts, was dedicated to education, based on Tantaquidgeon’s belief that “you can’t hate someone you know a lot about.” It is the oldest Native American owned and operated Indian museum in the U.S. Tantaquidgeon continued to work at the museum until 1998, and further served the Mohegans on their Tribal Council. In addition, she worked as the librarian at the Niantic Women’s Prison during the 1940s, where she tapped into her previous work helping struggling women on reservations.

    Drawing knowledge from multiple sources, Tantaquidgeon was also the author of several books on Indian medicine practices and folklore, including Folk Medicine of the Delaware and Related Algonkian Indians. Among her many honors are the University of Connecticut’s “Tiffany Jewel” and the National Organization of Women’s Harriet Tubman Award. In addition, Tantaquidgeon received honorary doctorates from the University of Connecticut and Yale University.

    When Gladys Tantaquidgeon died at the age of 106, she was celebrated as the remarkable woman who had kept her heritage alive with her spirituality and fierce determination. At the time of her death, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell remarked that “Tantaquidgeon shared 106 years with Connecticut and its people, and all of us are the richer for it.”
    If you've ever been to the Mohegan Sun casino, there is a statue of Gladys there. She was a remarkable woman from a remarkable family with remarkable friends.
    http://www.mystic.org/media/com_mtre...ngs/m/1584.jpg
    Last edited by dorispulaski; 09-15-2013 at 08:22 PM.

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    What a splendid story! And one unknown to me. Thanks so much. I'm getting gooseflesh. These people were truly wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

    A friend in CT is active in the museum dedicated to Quaker activist Prudence Crandall. I'll share this story with her, though in the way of local museum guardians, she might already know of this. If not, she'll be delighted.

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