Rhode Island
Profile Type: Cultural Nonprofit
NEFA Grant Recipient
Cultural Nonprofit

The mission of Tomaquag Museum is to educate the public and promote thoughtful dialogue regarding Indigenous history, culture, arts, and Mother Earth and connect to Native issues of today. We envision our future as an Indigenous Cultural Education destination that engages visitors in thoughtful dialogue that promotes understanding and strives to create experiences that transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of Indigenous Cultures and the interrelationship with the wider world.

Tomaquag Museum’s Core Values are rooted in our Indigenous beliefs. These beliefs drive our organization's strategy and decisions and contribute in a definitive manner to its success. The very culture of the organization is determined by our traditional values and philosophy. These values are the ideals and inspiration that guide the decisions and actions taken by Tomaquag Museum and by its individual employees. As our organization continues to grow and develop it is recognized that these values will guide us into the future.

Our exhibits focus on Southern New England tribal arts, history, and future, highlighting the Narragansett Tribe. Learn about the amazing life of a real Rhode Island hero, the prominent marathon runner and Olympic athlete Ellison "Tarzan" Brown, who was first and foremost a Narragansett. Explore Narragansett history through The Pursuit of Happiness: An Indigenous View which reflects on the denial of our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The exhibit focuses on Education, Spirituality, Political and Economic Sovereignty, Love and Family, and the importance of traditional language. The Eastern Woodland Basket Exhibit highlights ash splint baskets from southern New England. Come view the beautiful birchbark containers, stamped baskets, and porcupine adorned containers. The Narragansett Indian Church exhibit traces the history and significance of the church through the eyes of tribal elders in Framing Community Spirit: The Narragansett Indian Church.

August Meeting Pow Wow allows visitors to view various pictures, cultural materials, traditional clothing, and films highlighting the Narragansett Tribe's Annual August Meeting Pow Wow and Green Corn Celebration. August Meeting Pow Wow is the Oldest Recorded Native Gathering in the country.Various traditional musical instruments are exhibited and their uses as well as materials used to create these traditional items is expressed.

“Stories from our ancestors impact our stories today and inform our future. Our stories tell our history, express our culture and frame our perspective on Mother Earth. Our children and grandchildren hear these stories and develop an understanding of who they are as Indigenous people. They are taught from a young age that it is their responsibility to pass on these teachings to the next seven generations to come.”


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I Have Worked With

  • Tomaquag Museum and Haffenreffer Museum have collaborated on several cultural arts programs, most recently during NEA Big Read 2013. Haffenreffer hosted an Ojibwe traditional arts exhibit at Rockerfeller Library at Brown University in reflection of Louise Erdrich's book "Love Medicine", as well as coordinating a round table discussion as part of the region-wide Big Read events calendar.

  • Tomaquag Museum partnered with Warwick Museum of Art to create the first ever Eastern Woodland Native Arts show, co-curated by Loren Spears. Tomaquag provided Tribal Elder Dawn Dove offering a traditional Narragansett  prayer, as well as Native artists like Thawn Harris performing music, dance, drumming. We also provided eductional arts programming though dreamcatcher weaving.

    The Warwick Museum is continuing its partnership this year with their exhibit themed "Love Medicine" during NEA Big Read 2013.

  • Tomaquag Museum has collaborated with Dawn Spears on several arts workshops: Corn Husk dolls, Acrylic/Watercolor Painting Traditional Themes, as well as HOPARTS Studio trail Native Arts demonstration at Tomaquag Museum.

    This years marks the 2nd Annual Native Arts Show at the Atrium in Providence, curated by Dawn Spears, alongside this years's newest addition, the Youth Native Arts portion of the show curated by Loren Spears.



  • NEFA Grantee
  • Cultural Nonprofit

Contact Information

First Name: 
Job Title/Position: 
Executive Director
Mailing Address: 
390 Summit Rd
Exeter, RI 02822
Physical Address: 
390 Summit Rd
Exeter, RI 02822
Last Name: 


Profile Type: 
Cultural Nonprofit
Primary Discipline: 
Humanities - General
Additional Disciplines: 
Humanities - Cultural Heritage
Year Founded: 
Populations Served: 
General Public
School Groups
Languages Available: 
Native American / Indigenous
Institution/Business Type: 
Museums - Other
Activities and Services: 
Workshops / Demonstrations / Master Class
Geographic Reach: 
Multi-State Region

Affiliations and Accomplishments

Professional Associations: 
South County Tourism Board
I am a Creative Communities Exchange Presenter
Expansion Arts Award - Rhode Island Foundation 2010
I am a NEFA Grant Recipient