Resident Tribal Historians

Christine Abrams, of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation, served as the Tribal Historian in Residence for 2014.  A tireless advocate for repatriation, she serves on the Haudenosaunee Standing Committee on Burial Rules and Regulations.  In this role, she advocates for repatriation of ancestral remains as well as approving protocols for new construction projects that govern their action should ancestral remains be discovered.  In addition to protecting Native burial sites, Christine also works to repatriate culturally sacred items – such as two Onondaga wampum belts which Sotheby’s were preparing to auction – and to plan cultural events like the Two Row Wampum rowing event to reflect on the Two Row Wampum Treaty. 

James Francis Sr., Tribal Historian in Residence for 2013, is a Tribal Historian of the Penobscot Nation and Director of the Nation's Culture and Historic Preservation Department.  He has also worked to develop culturally appropriate classroom materials that will help educate young students about the history and ongoing cultures of Native people in Maine.

Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, Tribal Historian in Residence for 2012, was initiated as the Mohegan Medicine Woman in 2008, following in the footsteps of her great aunt Gladys Tantaquidgeon who taught her the traditional herbs and remedies of the Mohegan and Delaware tribes.  Melissa has also been Tribal Historian since 1991, and since 1992 has been the Executive Director for the Mohegan Tribe’s Department of Cultural and Community Programs. For her work, she received the first annual Chief Little Hatchet Award in 1996, granted for contributions to the success and survival of the Mohegan people. In addition to these roles serving her tribal community, she is also an author of fiction and non-fiction works, with: The Lasting of the Mohegans (1995), Makiawisug: The Gift of the Little People (1997), Medicine Trail: The Life and Lessons of Gladys Tantaquidgeon (2000), Oracles: A Novel (2004), and most recently, Fire Hollow (2010).

Trudie Lamb-Richmond, a member of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation and Tribal Historian in Residence for 2011, is a Native storyteller and museum educator specializing in Native American history and culture.  She has also written and edited numerous publications, educational projects, and exhibits.Trudie has been involved in Native American educational and political issues for more than four decades and served as the Director of Public Programs for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation, as well as the Director of Education for the Public Programs for the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Connecticut from 1988 to 1993 and its assistant director from 1993 to 1996.  She continues her scholarly and activist work today, with now more than four decades of service to Northeastern Native communities.

Paulla Dove Jennings of Rhode Island, Tribal Historian in Residence for 2010, is a respected Narragansett educator, historian, and author. Hailing from the Turtle Clan, keepers of history, tribal lore, and legend, she learned her tribal and family history from her grandmother. Jennings also obtained a degree from the Community College of Rhode Island and has worked as a curator for both the Boston Children's Museum and the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum in Exeter, Rhode Island. She is a storyteller for "First Things First", and has performed as a storyteller at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. She has also served politically, as a member of the Tribal Council and as Gaming Commissioner for the Narragansett Indian Tribe.

Linda Coombs, the designated Tribal Historian in Residence for 2009, is the Associate Director of the Wampanoag Indigenous Program at Plimoth Plantation.  Coombs, Aquinnah Wampanoag, conducts research into the culture and history of the many Wampanoag communities in southern New England.  Coombs applies this research to the public presentations of Wampanoag culture at Plimoth Plantation.  Ongoing research at the University of MA Amherst aids in expanding the breadth and depth of these public presentations.

Donna Roberts Moody, the Tribal Historian in Residence for 2008 has a long history of representing federally non-recognized Abenaki communities in the process of NAGPRA. As a non-federally recognized peoples, Moody’s work requires strong support from several Abenaki communities in Vermont and New Hampshire, communities who still function without an overarching political hierarchy.  Her research focuses on the Abenaki in the Connecticut River Valley.

Patricia Mann-Stoliby, was designated as the Tribal Historian in Residence for 2007.  She is the Historian and Research Consultant for the Ramapough Lenape Indian community in New Jersey.  Mann-Stoliby conducted research into the institutional racism and environmental genocide due to toxic waste that is devastating the Ramapough Lenape communities in the hills of New Jersey.  The results add to the legal and public protests of this genocide.

Carole Palavra, the Tribal Historian in Residence for 2006, was designated as the tribal historian for the Nipmuc Nation and approved for this residency by the Nipmuc Nation Tribal Council and Walter Vickers, Chief Natachaman.  Palavra and the Nipmuc Nation were chosen as part of the CPNAIS and University of MA Amherst’s desire for stronger relations with the Nipmuc people and communities.

Michael Markley, the designated Tribal Historian for the Seaconke Wampanoag, was our Tribal Historian in Residence for 2005.  Markley was identified as his tribe’s official historian by tribal chief George Silverwolf Jenning who gave his endorsement to the CPNAIS Director.  The Seaconke Wampanoag were selected because of their efforts to reestablish their cultural identity in eastern Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts and after consultation with Jim Peters of the Massachusetts Office of Indian Affairs.  Markley has been active in Seaconke Wampanoag affairs over the last decade, playing a major role in the tribe’s re-emergence, and since the fall 2004, he has been the head of its tribal council.

Jean Foggo Simon, the Tribal Historian in Residence for 2004, is the Principal Researcher for the St. David’s Island, Bermuda Indians, who are descended from seventeenth century Indian captives mostly from southern New England who were shipped to Bermuda where they were sold into slavery.  A resident of Oberlin, Ohio, Simon was one of the Bermuda Indian leaders instrumental in creating the historic Reconnection event of 2002 attended by Pequot, Wampanoag, and Narragansett tribal members led by Michael Thomas and Tall Oak.  St. Clair “Brinky” Tucker, Simon’s cousin, the leader of the St. Davis’s Island Indians, formally endorsed her for the Tribal Historian Residency.

Lawrence A. Dunmore, III, Esq. of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation in Hillsborough, NC was the program’s first Tribal Historian in Residence in 2003.  With the endorsement of his tribal chief, John Blackfeather Jeffries to the Director of  CPNAIS, we invited Dunmore with a two-fold purpose in mind: 1) he wished to research Occaneechi Saponi  families and individuals who had migrated from North Carolina and Virginia to Massachusetts and nearby states during the nineteenth century; and 2) as an attorney with state and federal recognition experience, he would be able to advise tribal representatives about pursuing their objectives.