Contrary to the fictional account of James Fenimore Cooper, the Mohegan/Mohican nation did not vanish with the death of Chief Uncas more than three hundred years ago. In the remarkable life story of one of its most beloved matriarchs 100-year-old medicine woman Gladys Tantaquidgeon Medicine Trail tells of the Mohegans' survival into this century. Blending autobiography and history, with traditional knowledge and ways of life, Medicine Trail presents a collage of events in Tantaquidgeon's life. We see her childhood spent learning Mohegan ceremonies and healing methods at the hands of her tribal grandmothers, and her Ivy League education and career in the white male-dominated field of anthropology. We also witness her travels to other Indian communities, acting as both an ambassador of her own tribe and an employee of the federal government's Bureau of Indian Affairs. Finally we see Tantaquidgeon's return to her beloved Mohegan Hill, where she cofounded America's oldest Indian-run museum, carrying on her life's commitment to good medicine and the cultural continuance and renewal of all Indian nations.
Written in the Mohegan oral tradition, this book offers a unique insider's understanding of Mohegan and other Native American cultures while discussing the major policies and trends that have affected people throughout Indian Country in the twentieth century. A significant departure from traditional anthropological "as told to" American Indian autobiography, Medicine Trail represents a major contribution to anthropology, history, theology, women's studies, and Native American studies.
Melissa Jayne Fawcett currently serves as Tribal Historian of the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut. In 1992 she received the North American Native Writer's First Book Award in Creative Nonfiction from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas for The Lasting of the Mohegans.