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Connecticut tribes co-create state social studies curriculum, centering "our culture and our ways"

Members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation sit in a circle and lead a drum prayer before a news conference.
Ayannah Brown
Connecticut Public
Members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation lead a drum prayer before a news conference to announce the launch of a partnership between the Connecticut State Department of Education and Connecticut’s tribal leaders on the development a Native American studies curriculum for use in the state’s schools.

The State Department of Education and five Connecticut tribal nations are working together to meet a legislative mandate calling for Native American curriculum for K-12 social studies classes. Resources with localized information from the tribal nations themselves – Eastern Pequot, Mashantucket Pequot, Mohegan, Schaghticoke and Golden Hill Paugussett – are expected to be available in January 2024.

This hour, we preview this collaboration with educators from the Mohegan Tribal Nation and the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, as well as State Department of Education social studies advisor Steve Armstrong.

Storytelling 1 - PR OK.jpg
Darlene Kascak
Institute for Indian American Studies Museum & Research Center
Students visiting the Institute for Indian American Studies Museum in Washington, Conn. hear from Darlene Kascak, education coordinator and a traditional Native American storyteller with the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.

Darlene Kascak, education coordinator for the Institute of American Indian Studies and a traditional Native American storyteller with the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, explains the importance of centering, and distinguishing, each tribe's story and voice.

Plus, Sam Cholewa Tondreau is the director of curriculum and instruction for the Mohegan Tribal Nation, helping develop the Educators Project, an online portal that provides a "combination of free Native American study resources and tools" to educators and homeschoolers.

For those with young learners outside of the classroom who want to learn more, Cholewa Tondreau recommends the American Indian Library Association (ailanet.org) and American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL).

Cholewa Tondreau points to one book she recommends for middle-schoolers and adults alike: An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States For Young People by Jean Mendoza, Debbie Reese, and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. "While United States history isn't 12,000 years old, it does add an additional layer of Indigenous perspective and events," she says.


  • Darlene Kascak: Education Coordinator, Institute of American Indian Studies; Traditional Native American Storyteller, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation
  • Sam Cholewa Tondreau: Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Mohegan Tribal Nation
  • Steve Armstrong: Social Studies Consultant, Connecticut State Department of Education

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Katie is a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show 'Where We Live.' She has previously worked for CNN and News 8-WTNH.
Catherine is the Host of Connecticut Public’s morning talk show and podcast, Where We Live. Catherine and the WWL team focus on going beyond the headlines to bring in meaningful conversations that put Connecticut in context.