Gladys Tantaquidgeon

TANTAQUIDGEON, Gladys Mohegan Medicine Woman Gladys Iola Tantaquidgeon passed away peacefully at her home Tuesday morning (November 1, 2005) on Mohegan Hill. She was 106 years old at the time of her passing---the oldest living member of the Mohegan Tribe. Born on June 15, 1899 to John and Harriet Fielding Tantaquidgeon (both Mohegan Indians), she was the third of the family's seven children. Gladys was predeceased by sisters Lillian, Winifred and Ruth and brothers Earl, Burrill and Chief Harold Tantaquidgeon. Educated in tribal spirituality and herbalism by her "tribal grandmothers" Lydia Fielding, Mercy Ann Nonesuch Mathews and Emma Baker, Gladys briefly attended grammar school before entering the University of Pennsylvania in 1919, where she studied with Anthropologist Frank Speck and wrote in the field of anthropology. She expanded her Mohegan pharmacopeia by researching herbal medicine among related east coast tribes, including the Delaware, Nanticoke, Cayuga and Wampanoag. Her best-known work is A Study of Delaware Indian Medicine Practice and Folk Beliefs [1942], currently reprinted as Folk Medicine of the Delaware and Related Algonkian Indians [1972, 1995]. In 1987, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Connecticut and one from Yale in 1994. Her other honors include the Connecticut Education Association's Friend of Education Award, The Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame, the National Organization for Women's Harriet Tubman Award, and numerous Native American honors. In 1931 she co-founded Tantaquidgeon Indian Museum along with her brother Harold and father John. It is the oldest Indian owned and operated museum in America. She shared her brother's philosophy that education was the best cure for prejudice. "You can't hate someone that you know a lot about." In 1934, she was recruited by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, John Collier, to serve as a community worker on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota, and from 1938-1947 she worked to promote Indian art as a specialist for the newly-formed Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Board in the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming. Part of this Native art revival included the bolstering of ancient ceremonials, for which certain Native artistic/ ceremonial objects were required. The Sundance and the Rain Dance had been previously prohibited by the federal government and part of Tantaquidgeon's job was to encourage the restoration of these and other previously prohibited ancient practices. During the 1940's, Gladys worked as the librarian at the Niantic Women's prison, where she felt that her previous work with reservation families had sensitized her to the needs of women in difficult situations. In the 1990's, Gladys' extraordinary personal records of correspondence regarding Mohegan births, graduations, marriages and deaths were critical to proving the Mohegan case for Federal Recognition in 1994. On March 7th of this year, on the eleventh anniversary of that recognition, she was asked if she had any messages to share with her people, to which she responded, "We all have to stand in love for the tribe." She is survived by her Mohegan Tribal Family. The graveside funeral for Mohegan Medicine Woman Gladys Tantaquidgeon will take place on Sunday, November 6 at Shantok, on the Mohegan Reservation in Uncasville. A walking processional to Shantok will begin at 10 a.m. at Tantaquidgeon Indian Museum, 1819 Norwich New London Turnpike, Uncasville. Elders are encouraged to ride to the site. Those who do wish to walk may leave their cars at Shantok and be shuttled to the processional origin point at the museum, so their cars will be available for them, afterward, at the funeral site. Shuttles will be available from 8:30-9:30 a.m. The Montville Funeral Home of Church and Allen, Rte 32 Montville, is entrusted with arrangements.

Published by Hartford Courant on Nov. 5, 2005.
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24 Entries
You are remembered fondly!
Daniel D. aka. Strongbow Bailey
October 29, 2019
The Native American Community as a whole has truly lost one of its finest personages...Gladys Tantaquidgeon's passing will leave a large void that will take many generations to fill...Our sympathies to her family and people.

Pat "Sipsis" Weston
Richard "Strong Buffalo" Dana
Marissa "Winter Dawn" Davis
Pat "Sipsis" Weston
November 22, 2005
In the 50's and 60's my mother was a teacher at Samuel Huntington School in Norwich. Every year without exception she took her class to see Chief Harold and Gladys Tantaquidgeon. The Indian history was an integral part of Mother's teaching curriculum. How wonderful that Gladys lived to see some dreams become reality. What a heritage. May she comfort all of us in the days to come..
Hanna Sullivan Cushman
November 8, 2005
I remember Gladys and Chief Harold when I visited the museum as a 7 or 8 yr old Brownie Girl Scout. The fur lined birthing pit to squat over, the whole experience left a great impression and appreciation. Blessings to you as you remember her. Cathie formerly from Willimantic CT.
Cathie Dainton Piacente
November 7, 2005
Having the opportunity to work with Glady's family and freinds for the past 9 years at Mohegan Sun, I can only imagine what a great woman she must have been. I did not have the pleasure of meeting her in person however I have heard many great things about her. I am deeply saddened by her loss for all the Mohegan Tribe. She was truly a most honorable lady.
Julie Flowers
Oakdale Ct
Julie Flowers
November 7, 2005
I had the great pleasure of taking care of Miss. Gladys Tantaquidgeon for a few years and I enjoyed every moment of my time with her. She was an amazing women. She had the most mild,meek and loving personality. She lived a good clean life and it was evident...
Elaine Wortham-Williams
November 6, 2005
I did not have the honor of knowing Gladys Tantaquidgeon, what I know of her I have read about in the last few days. There was Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks, and Gladys Tantaquidgeon all women of great strength of spirt. I am Blessed because I know they are all "my sisters." Celebrate her life.
Nancy Grondahl
November 5, 2005
You will be missed by many.
Daniel D. "Strongbow" Bailey
November 5, 2005
I have many fond memories of Gladys
and her brother Harold when I was a cub scout I made several trips to
their museum.
Her family and the Mohrgan's have our deepest sympethy.
thomas edgecomb
November 5, 2005
Mohegan Tribe:
I am so sorry Gladys is gone. I see the wax figure of her each time I go to Mohegan Sun. You were very lucky to have her all this time and such a legacy.
Barbara Kielbasa
November 5, 2005
At times like this, words seem so powerless to express the thoughts of the many who knew her and the lives she touched.May the Creator welcome her home.
Darlene Eyes of the Wolf Currier
November 5, 2005
Such a wonderful children all went to museum when they were small children. Was such a big part of Uncasville........God speed............ Nancy Schroeder
nancy schroeder
November 5, 2005
Harry Baker Sr.
November 4, 2005
A good friend that will truly be missed by many and always be remebered in spirit.
Eleanor Rippling Waters^^ Michaud
November 4, 2005
"A true leader of her people who will always be remembered by all."
Leonard Comrie
November 4, 2005
Our sincere condolences go out to Gladys's family and Nation.
Her teachings, dedication, and advocacy for her fellow Native peoples leaves all of us a wonderful legacy. Her passing will leave a huge void in the lives of all Native peoples. She paved the road for generations to come.
Blue Moon Walking & Rainbow Wolf Wueke
November 4, 2005
Andrew Loomis
November 4, 2005
Her beautiful story "Medicine Trail: The Life and Lessons of Gladys Tantaquidgeon" changed my life. The Elder is now reunited with her ancestors yet her brilliance and example will live on. My prayers are for her family and her Tribal Nation.
Trace DeMeyer
November 4, 2005
My son and I will surely miss our talks about herbs with her, it was bad enough to lose her brother years ago, as he was very important to my family. Her family has our deepest sympathy.
Wunnesstou Kovacs
November 4, 2005
A most beautiful spirit who'll live on forever. My sympathies to all who feel the loss of her being on earth!
Carpathia DeLano
November 4, 2005
I grew up with many of Miss Tantaquidgeon's relatives, and remember going to see her with a class trip from the Uncasville School. She was a very impressive woman.

God bless her for her long life and many contributions to Montville's history.
Barbara (Wisniewski) Schuler
November 4, 2005

Glads Tantaquidgeon
I meet Gladys throught a family friend. I Have Ben in the Museum many times. And Have spoke with her each time we went there. I even made a Indian Bandbaner for the museum . Witch is waron on your forheard. Gladys Tantaquidgeon Will Be Sadly Missed.
millie porter
November 4, 2005
your wisdom and teachings will survive forever. godspeed
victoria butts
November 4, 2005
I met Gladys Tantaquidgeon only one time, at the museum, by special appointment. She thrilled and impressed me with her stories and her collection. It was only later that I learned of my own native heritage. Although she will be dearly missed, she will live on through the gifts she has given to the Mohegan people. What a joy it must have been to live within her world.
shirley sutton
November 4, 2005
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