Published by The Advocacy Committee of the
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One Nation, Two Worlds

The Providence Journal (Providence, RI) , August 2, 2004


Life for the Narragansett Indian community in Charlestown balances Indian ways with the so-called modern world. They strive to keep their heritage at the forefront while teaching their children to succeed in wider society.

One such couple is Eleanor and Thawn Harris. Tradition, spirituality, and education are the couple's tools against the poverty and addiction that surround them.

Eleanor is of the turtle clan, known for its storytelling. Eleanor shares tales handed down from her grandmother, mother and aunt. The stories are a mix of fable, family lore and history, meant to convey values and morals and to deepen understanding. They span from creation to the injustices the Narragansetts feel Europeans and the state have dealt their people.

Through their tales, Thawn and Eleanor encourage perseverance, thanksgiving and courage in their children. A favorite is the creation story. Today, Eleanor says, all Narragansett children know that story. They know that when trees whip side to side and the ground trembles, it's simply Grandmother Turtle stretching her shell.

Subjects Covered: education

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