Ron Adams/Broad Meadows Middle School Teacher
Marc Paiva (right) and the “History Girls” after their presentation on June 13, 2014.

‘History Girls’ Propose Native Site Recognition for Passanageset Knoll

Marc Paiva
8/9/14

The Broad Meadows Marsh in Quincy, Massachusetts, is another recent success in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ aquatic habitat restoration. Wendy Gendron, NAE Planning Study Manager, has been coordinating with the adjacent middle school to foster educational opportunities.

Marc Paiva, New England District’s Archaeologist and Tribal Liaison met with Broad Meadows Middle School Ron Adams and several of his 7th grade students known as “The History Girls” at the school on June 13.

In conjunction with the New England District project, “The History Girls” are proposing to recognize a significant Native American site known as Passanageset Knoll, which is located behind the Broad Meadows Middle School within the salt marsh, which they discovered through research about the area.

This relatively unknown site was the location of the Native American Massachusetts Tribe’s summer village or “sachem’s seat,” before they were forced by disease and epidemic to move to the more well-known Moswetuset Hummock located at the northern end of Wollaston Beach. Their proposal is to recognize this special place by creating signs along a trail in the Broad Meadows salt marsh, and to create a “First People of our City,” exhibit within Broad Meadows Middle School or at the public library to preserve and display Native American artifacts dating from 3,500 years that were unearthed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) archaeologists at nearby Caddy Park in 1999.

The students contacted Gendron about their proposal and she recommended they invite Paiva to discuss their proposal and how best to involve and interact with the Native American leaders and community.

Wendy Gendron shows site plans to Col. Charles Samaris and members of the New England District Team during a site tour of the Broad Meadows Environmental Restoration Project in Quincy in September 2011.

Before proceeding further with their proposal, the students and their teacher want to ensure that any signs are historically appropriate and have the approval of the local Native American descendants and community. The students have already received the informal support of Gill Solomon, Massachusett Tribal Sachem; Anna won Weed on, Wampanoag tribal member and interpreter at Plymouth Plantation; Ed Fitzgerald, director of the Quincy Historical Society; reference librarians at Thomas Crane Public Library; Quincy Mayor Tom Koch; Quincy City Councilor, Margaret Afforest; Chris Cassini, the head of the Quincy DPW; Broad Meadows Middle School Principal, staff and family members; and DCR Archaeologist, Ellen Berkline. The Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs, the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, and the Institute for New England Native American Studies at UMass/Boston were also contacted.

It was suggested that the student proposal be formally sent by letter to a wide range of interested parties to include the above individuals and groups along with the federally recognized Wampanoag Tribes, Massachusetts Eighth Congressional District Representative Stephen Lynch, Massachusetts Historical Commission and DCR, Mayor Koch, and any other locally interested organizations or individuals. The letter shall state the goals of the proposal and indicate that the students wish to consult with Native Americans on the development of proper signs for Broad Meadows Marsh. The ultimate goal is to implement the proposal and signs in time for a May 2015 opening of the Broad Meadows Marsh Park to be known from then on as Passanageset Park.

The New England District will provide its support in consulting with the various tribal entities and individuals and assist in arriving at proper signs and wording to recognize and commemorate the Native American history of Quincy, particularly at this significant Passanageset Knoll site.

Col. Charles Samaris and members of the New England District Team conduct a site tour of the Broad Meadows Environmental Restoration Project in Quincy on September 9, 2011.

Based on the presentation the “History Girls” gave, Paiva suggested the following:

A site visit with all interested Native American groups and individuals should be facilitated in order to further discuss the proposal and to view the site. It was also recommended that the artifact collection from the DCR Caddy Site be made available to tribal members so they can reflect on the information gathered from this site and determine an appropriate theme for the signs at Passanageset Knoll. It was important to have the Native American perspective before meeting with other project stakeholders, as it is the students’ intent to respect the Native viewpoint in any interpretive materials and signs.

Lastly, a site visit with all project supporters should be held to discuss the student proposal and the agreed-upon design and wording for the signs. This meeting would include all groups and individuals that were included in the original proposal correspondence (federal, tribal, state, local) along with any others that may have expressed an interest since that time. The goal of this meeting would be to provide an update of what has been discussed with the tribal members and to reach agreement on implementing the proposal in time for the May 2015 opening. Berkline has indicated that she would like to collaborate on activities such as walking tours pertaining to the Passanageset Knoll site and local Quincy Native American history as part of Massachusetts Archaeology Month activities in October 2014.

The Grade 7 “History Girls” are: Michaela O’Gara-Pratt; Mackenzie Maguire; Colleen Connor; Eve Anderson; Grace Higgins and Abigail Kraunelis.

Broad Meadows Marsh, located behind the school, is the site of an NAE Section 1135 (Project Modifications for the Improvement of the Environment) project, which is currently under construction.

Dredged material from the nearby Town River Federal Navigation Project was deposited on parts of the marsh circa 1939 and again in 1956. The current construction project will restore portions of the original Broad Meadows Marsh by removing some of the deposited dredged material.

This story was written by Marc Paiva, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, and it first appeared in the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.

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