Tomaquag Museum: Rhode Island's Only Indigenous Museum

Lorén Spears, Executive Director of Tomaquag Museum, talks about the tours, programs, classes, workshops, lectures, demonstrations, and more offered by the vibrant and dynamic cultural institution in Exeter, Rhode Island.


(19 min)



Lorén M. Spears, Executive Director
Lorén is not only the executive director of Tomaquag Museum, she is also an educator, activist, author, and Indigenous artist. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1989 and master’s degree from the University of New England with a focus on elementary education. She founded the Nuweetooun School affiliated with the Tomaquag Museum (closed in 2010 due to flooding) and was a teacher in Newport public schools for 12 years.


A 2017 winner of the Tom Roberts Prize for Creative Achievement in the Humanities from the Rhode Island Council on the Humanities, she was honored for her “compelling work as an advocate of Indigenous People’s history and cultural heritage in preservation, the arts, and education.” In 2010, Spears was named as one of 11 Extraordinary Women honorees for teaching and education.


Mission Statement
The Mission of Tomaquag Museum is to educate the public and promote thoughtful dialogue regarding Indigenous history, culture, arts, and Mother Earth and connect to Native issues of today.


Vision Statement
Tomaquag Museum envisions its future as an Indigenous Cultural Education destination that engages visitors in thoughtful dialogue that promotes understanding and strives to create experiences that transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of Indigenous Cultures and the interrelationship with the wider world.


Core Values
Tomaquag Museum's Core Values are rooted in our traditional values and philosophy.  They inspire our actions and guide our decisions as we continue to grow and develop our organization.


  1. Respect: Fostering trust, collaboration, appreciation, diversity, honor, spirit path

  2. Leadership: Promoting integrity, initiative, high standards, self-motivation, inner journey

  3. Inclusiveness: Furthering service, sharing resources, flexibility, accessibility, responsiveness, community

  4. Knowledge: Promoting curiosity, discovery, teaching, life-long learning, empowerment. Encouraging creativity, rigorous inquiry, analysis, documentation, communication, and upholding ethical standards and Indigenous principles

  5. Responsibility: Encouraging legal, ethical and fiscal responsibility; stewardship, accountability, organizational and cultural continuity


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