We at Plimoth Patuxet Museums were shocked by the recent press inquiry and subsequent coverage regarding a boycott of this organization. No one contacted us first to request a meeting or to express any concerns they may have about the museum’s Patuxet Homesite exhibit. Allegation-filled articles and defamatory comments on social media were incredibly hurtful to the staff here, all of whom are doing their best every day to keep alive the remarkable history of this time and place.
In the wake of the pandemic that resulted in reduced revenue, understaffing, and other challenges, we are working hard to build back every facet of the museum’s programs and exhibits. We do not take it for granted that we are still here, fulfilling our educational mission, when so many other organizations and businesses did not survive. Our dedicated employees, board and other volunteers, along with the support of donors and members, make this possible. We are truly grateful to them.
As a living history museum of the 17th century, Plimoth Patuxet Museums understands how important it is to reflect the experience, perspectives, and history of the Wampanoag and other Indigenous people of this region who have lived on this land for thousands of years. Changing the name to Plimoth Patuxet Museums in 2020 acknowledged what was already true – that the history and cultural heritage of the region’s Indigenous people are essential and have been a vital part of the Museum for more than 50 years.
We value open dialogue with members of the Wampanoag tribes and are in conversation with community members, including current staff at Plimoth Patuxet. We recognize how important it is to reflect the history and traditional knowledge of local and regional Indigenous people. Over the years, we’ve been successful in this regard via our hiring practices, exhibits, digital content, educational outreach programs, and engagement efforts. But there’s always room for improvement. Based on the relevant feedback we’ve received, we aim to maintain and improve reciprocal, collaborative working relationships with members of the Wampanoag tribes and other Indigenous people of this region.
One of Plimoth Patuxet Museums’ areas of focus is Indigenous programs, exhibits, and infrastructure. Most significantly in terms of our commitment is the planning for a new Indigenous programs building; we have already raised more than $2 million toward a $4 million goal. We hope to move forward with this project within the next 18 months or as soon as funding is complete. This is an exciting project that will add contemporary Wampanoag programs and exhibits and other Indigenous exhibits, and will enhance the visitor experience, as well as create additional capacity to support Indigenous staff and the important work they do as culture-keepers and educators.
The museum is committed to thoughtful discussion, reflection and specific actions to address relevant concerns. Below is a list of initiatives that are either underway or about to be launched. They reflect our existing commitment to Indigenous voices/experience.
Diversify and strengthen partnerships with affinity-based and cultural organizations associated with Indigenous communities
Hire additional Indigenous leadership whenever possible
Increase Wampanoag and other Indigenous representation on the museum’s Board.
Develop an interpretive strategy within ‘Along the Shores of Change’ that highlights the experience of Indigenous communities.
Continue to strengthen the Museum's program for staff recruitment, orientation, training and professional development, and collaborate with current Indigenous staff in support of efforts to hire more Indigenous staff.
Evaluate and update training materials for staff, including core cultural literacy and awareness.
Invest in physical and digital infrastructure to support new and existing programming.
Align interpretive plans and all programs for the post-contact wetu, nushwetu and Meetinghouse to explore nuanced relationships – including both diplomacy and conflicts – between Indigenous and European communities in the 17th century. For 75 years, this Museum has welcomed millions of students and visitors from around the world to explore these interwoven stories. With the public, we seek to understand the people, the choices, and the events that transformed the ancient homelands of the Wampanoag and other Indigenous peoples of this region. That understanding holds the potential to inform and inspire people today.
We hope that good faith efforts to understand the issues and take further actions to improve will be a step in a positive direction for all of our stakeholders, and most of all for the public whom the museum exists to serve.