Roger Williams University Co-Lab UNconference discusses missing Native voices

The Roger Williams University Public Humanities and Arts Collaborative convened “Hidden Truths: Telling New Stories About the Ocean State” on October 7, 2022 at the RWU Providence campus. This convening brought together organizations, scholars, practitioners, artists and advocates who are working to make hidden stories and histories more visible in the New England region for a collaborative discussion on how to work together to further these efforts.

Dave Weed, Coordinator of the Sowams Heritage Area Project, proposed one of six different discussions using the “unconference” model of participant-generated and supported sessions. His session, pictured at the left, raised the question of why there are eight different Native tribes in Rhode Island, most people have only heard of one or two. The group explored possible reasons why one tribe’s story dominates the stories of other tribes in the state and what would have to change for other voices to emerge. One possible model is the Sowams Heritage Area Project that is looking at ways that this could be done.

Dr. Weed is looking a models where multiple visions of place, both past and present, can be presented so all voices can tell their “hidden truths” through stories that may contradict that of others. For an excellent model of this way of presenting differing perspectives on history, go to the Deerfield History Museum’s website that presents six different views on the 1704 Raid on Deerfield.