Grating the Nutmeg
The Podcast of Connecticut history produced by CT Explored and the Office of the State Historian
Find all of our episodes HERE
Episode 108: Up and Down the River with Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel
55 minutes. Release date: December 15, 2020
Mohegan Medicine Woman, tribal historian, and award-winning playwright and screenwriter Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel sits down with state historian Walt Woodward to talk about the radio drama Up and Down the River she and her equally accomplished daughter Madeline Sayet recently wrote, produced, and directed for Hartford’s Heartbeat Ensemble. The five short plays provide a unique and important window into key moments in Mohegan history and culture. Zobel provides both a writer’s and a people’s perspective on the stories, and tells how everyone can—through 12/31/20–hear the radio drama for free on the Heartbeat Ensemble website.
Episode 78: Uncovering African and Native American Lives in 17th – 18th Century Hartford
30 Minutes. Release date: September 1, 2019
Four hundred years ago, in August 1619, more than 20 kidnapped enslaved African people were sold to the Virginia colonists. Slavery was well established in the early Connecticut Colony too. Traded, sold, given as gifts, and subjected to beatings, as documents attest, the enslaved people of Hartford suffered no less than enslaved people anywhere. In today’s episode, Connecticut Explored’s Mary Donohue finds out about an innovative, model project that uses fine-grained scholarship to uncover the lives of almost 500 African, African American, and Native Americans buried between 1640 and 1815 in Hartford’s oldest historic site, the Ancient Burying Ground. She talks with Dr. Kathy Hermes, professor at Central Connecticut State University, about the project, sponsored by the Ancient Burying Ground Association and about the new website that makes all this research available with a click of a mouse.
Episode 72: Samson Occom–the Man
58 minutes. Release Date: June 1, 2019
In part two of our commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the founding of Dartmouth College and its roots in the town of Columbia, Mohegan Elder Beth Regan tells the story of Samson Occom. Occom, a Mohegan who converted to Christianity, was educated by Rev. Eleazar Wheelock, became a teacher and minister, raised much of the money used to establish Dartmouth College, and went on to found the utopian native Christian community of Brothertown, New York. Occom’s story as told by Mohegan elder Regan provides an important perspective on Dartmouth’s founding.
This episode is dedicated to Mohegan Nonner Faith Damon Davison with whom Regan was to give her talk. She was prevented by the onset of an illness that led to her passing a few weeks later. A wise and wonderful person, Davison will be missed by all of us who knew her. –Walter Woodward
Episode 71: Eleazar Wheelock, The Great Awakening, Samson Occom, and the Indian School
1 Hour 12 Minutes. Release Date: May 15, 2019
Recently, alumni of Dartmouth College, members of the Mohegan Nation, the Columbia Historical Society, and state and local officials gathered in the quiet corner town of Columbia to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of that Ivy League institution. Why Columbia? That is where the Great Awakening minister Eleazar Wheelock, inspired by the educational achievements of Mohegan student Samson Occom, founded Moor’s Indian Charity School, the training school for indigenous missionaries that led directly to Wheelock’s founding of Dartmouth College in 1769.
In this episode, following Elder Beth Regan’s Mohegan-language conference invocation, state historian Walt Woodward describes Eleazar Wheelock’s life as a local minister and Great Awakening evangelist, his relationship with Samson Occom, and life at Moor’s Indian Charity School.
“A Little Town Begets a Small College,” Summer 2016
Episode 54 Part I: The Long Journeys Home–Henry ‘Opukaha’ia
Part II: The Long Journeys Home–Albert Afraid-of-Hawk
38 Minutes. Release Date: August 1, 2018
Two young native men: Henry Opukaha’ia, a native of Hawaii, who died in Cornwall, Connecticut in 1818, and Albert Afraid of Hawk, a Lakota Sioux native who died in Danbury in 1900.
Nick Bellantoni was the archaeologist tasked with helping return the remains of each of these men to their homes and families, more than a century after they had died.
Hear him tell their strangely connected and deeply moving stories in this special two part Grating the Nutmeg episode based on Bellantoni’s new Wesleyan University Press book The Long Journeys Home: The Repatriations of Henry ‘Opukaha’ia and Albert Afraid of Hawk.
“Rediscovering Albert Afraid-of-Hawk,” Summer 2014
Episode 52: Mark Twain’s Native American Problem
40 Minutes. Release Date: July 1, 2018
In this episode recorded at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Twain scholar and University of St. Joseph Professor of English Emerita Kerry Driscoll explores one of the last unexamined aspects of American author and humorist Mark Twain. Twain, a resident of Hartford from 1871 to 1891, wrote some of his most beloved works while living in Hartford and was generally known for championing the underdog. But Driscoll unflinchingly reveals here and in her book, Mark Twain Among the Indians and Other Indigenous Peoples, Twain’s blind spot when it came to America’s first peoples.