Stephanie Graham

Mount Everett Regional School, Sheffield MA

Journey from the ancestral homeland of the Stockbridge Indians of Massachusetts to their reservation in Bowler, WI, visiting historical sites along their forced migration route, to strengthen and modernize the shared local, indigenous curriculum for grades 4-8 and build partnerships between both communities through the documentation of people and places.

Where I've Been

  • Muncie, IN
  • Prophetstown, IN
  • Stockbridge, MA
  • Stockbridge, NY
  • Piqua, OH
  • Bowler, WI
  • Kaukauna, WI

My Fellowship in Images

This sign greets you as you enter the reservation. The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans
This mural was installed last year to pay retribution for the highways that ran through sacred land sites. Shawn Stevens points to the image of himself in regalia.
In this mound are the bones of 90 men, women, and children, brutally massacred by U.S. militia. Joshua, a Mohican, had founded this peaceful Moravian mission.
This tombstone is of a Mohican Sachem. It was plowed up by a farmer in Stockbridge, NY and now collects dust in the Fryer Museum.
This mural was painted by university students near Stockbridge, WI, one of the many relocation settlements of the Stockbridge Munsee Community.
In Stockbridge, MA, excavations are underway as evidence of meeting house locations and other important sites emerge.

Igniting Your Personal and Professional Growth

Describe one or two, specific learning experiences from your fellowship. In words, show us this experience and explain why it was powerful.

One powerful learning experience was the interaction with local historians and random strangers alike. The reality of the journey was such that in some places, evidence of the Stockbridge Indians was non-existent. Not only was I trying to locate significant sites, I was also figuring out how to ask the right questions that would trigger a memory or known fact to help me in my quest. This led me to the Fryer Museum, where two tombstones of known Sachems are kept, collecting dust, forgotten.

What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn professionally?

This project, which I have been developing for over a year, was contingent on my ability to accomplish the goals of this journey. Each hiccup made me feel more and more insecure. What I discovered, however, is in those moments, I often thought about the send-off I was given. In my mind I saw the faces of those strangers and remembered their words telling me I was embarking on a journey that would reveal exactly what was needed, and I was the right person to do it. In the end, I believed them.

What were some unplanned or unexpected experiences or outcomes of your fellowship? Or, how did the fellowship you crafted differ from the actual learning experience?

I was prepared to make formal presentations to the tribal council and schools. Acquiring meetings was more difficult than I had anticipated and at the onset of my trip, there were no meetings arranged at all--a fact that caused me great stress. I wondered about the causes and what I could have done differently. I worried about not being trusted or my project not valued. However, each day was filled with meetings, interviews, exploration, etc. Having faith in their system was the necessity.

Impacting Your Classroom, School and Community

Outline specific plans you have to implement your fellowship and reach your student goals.

The journey to the Mohican Nation reservation followed the tribe’s path of forced migration. The footage I collected will be compiled and edited to tell this story. The art and artifacts will serve as examples in lessons and as a display in school. The finished work will be used as supplemental resources for the Mohican People curriculum, written by the Stockbridge Munsee Community.

What is one way you can leverage your fellowship to create one authentic learning experience for students? (e.g. hands-on learning, projects, community engagement)

The resources I create as a result of this fellowship will be first shared with the Stockbridge Munsee Community. With their blessing, I will offer it to my district to fill in the gaps of the curriculum where nationally published textbooks cannot. I have already applied to present at a regional professional development day, which in the past has been successful in the making of connections and building a network throughout the county.

How, specifically, will your fellowship extend beyond your classroom? (e.g. families, school-at-large, afterschool groups, surrounding community, colleagues, etc.)

Knowledge I bring back will be applied to a community presentation at the Sheffield Historical Society. I will be inviting teachers from around the county to visit, form networks, and potentially discuss curriculum integration. They will be able to bring their classes as well. Further, I plan to develop a partnership with school groups from the reservation. My meetings with officials and children have supported that idea and I am excited about it's future.