Phil Konstantin's "This Day in North American Indian History" 2005 American Indian Student Essay Contest




This is the elementary/junior school group. The subject for their essay was:

"What everyone needs to know about my tribe."

India Robinson

Aaliyah L. Peagler

There is a tie in the elementary/junior high group. The winners are both Mashantucket Pequots from Connecticut.

India Robinson  

The rivers and valleys of Southeastern Connecticut were home to the proud nation of the Pequot. Long before Columbus arrived in North America, the rivers and valleys were our home. The Pequots hunted, fished, traded, and prospered on 250 miles of land between the Thames and Pawcatuck rivers along Long Island Sound. Now we have a reservation in Ledyard, Connecticut.

A long time ago the Pequots had war with the English and Naragansett. Our leader was Woopigwooit. He died in the war. Then Sassacus was our leader after his father, Woopigwooit died. Uncas was jealous of Sassacus and tried to have him killed so he could be the leader next.

Today my tribe has a community center where I can play pool. I go to the tutoring room in the community center to help with my schoolwork. Our traditional outfits are called Regalia. We learn the Pequot language in culture classes. For instance, “wampum” means money. We also learn to make bracelets and necklaces with beads. We learn to do Pequot dances in the Little Fox Dance Troupe. Many Pequot people today are also African-American. This makes it hard to be Pequot because we were only known as African-American for so long. Now we have to work hard to remember our Pequot roots and history.

India Robinson
Mashantucket Pequot
Grade 4
Groton, CT


Aaliyah L. Peagler  

My tribe is the Mashantucket Pequots, in Connecticut. In the past a lot of bad things happened to our tribe. We were hunted and sold as slaves, and now we are trying to become a great nation again.

In Hartford, on May 1, 1637, General Corte declared war against the Pequots. James Mason was appointed commander of 90 men. Word was sent to the Massachusetts Bay Colony asking for help. Uncas and 70 Mohegan’s joined forces with the English. On May 20, 1637, the English and the Mohegans left to fight the Pequots. The English left by boat and the Mohegans went by land, down the Connecticut River to Saybrook. The English and Uncas then sailed east on Long Island Sound. The Pequots watched as the English sailed by and thought that they were afraid. The Pequots celebrated, and did not worry about attacks anymore.

Meanwhile, Mason landed at Narragansett Bay and consulted with Miantonmoh, the Narragansett sachem. Miantonmoh said to wait for the reinforcements. Mason said they would not wait, and got permission to march through the Narragansett land to attack the Pequots from the rear. Some Narragansett went along as guides, and out of curiosity. They marched for 2 days. They stopped near Stonington, Connecticut. The Narragansett guides said they were near the first of two Pequot forts and that the second one, which was several hours away, was the home of Sassacus.

The English divided into two groups and scaled the hill to the Pequot fort. The Pequot’s, having been celebrating the passing of the English, were sleeping. Mason ordered the men to burn the wigwams. In one hour 500 Pequot men, women, and children were killed. Seven were taken prisoner, and seven escaped. Two English were killed and 20 were wounded.

The English retreated and went to meet their ship. Pequots from the other camp arrived and attacked the English. 100 more Pequot’s were killed. Pequots held a council. They knew that the English would attack them again and they were hard to fight. Sassacus and the Pequot tribe decided to burn down their wigwams and crops and move west to the Hudson River. A group of Pequots stayed behind. One of the English men from Massachusetts met up with them. Men were killed and women and children were sent to Massachusetts as slaves. Some English, with Uncas, went to find the rest of the Pequots. They found them in Guilford, Connecticut. They surrounded the Pequots and Uncas cut off the head of a minor sachem and hung it in a tree so now that place is called Sachem’s Head.

I think my tribe, the English, and the Mohegans learned their lesson never to fight like that again or else they will get in big trouble like they did in the past. We can all live together nicely. Now our tribe has a big casino and we have a lot of money. Today in our tribe we learn the Pequot language and we also learn how to do Pequot dances.

Aaliyah L. Peagler
Mashantucket Pequot
Grade 4
Mashantucket, CT



This is the high school group. There was also a tie in this catagory. The subject for their essay was:

"How my tribe’s history guides my life."

Stefani E. Walelu Ries

Karenia Melynda Simpson

Stefani E. Walelu Ries

Franklin, North Carolina


My ancestors have forged a path across the pages of history. Today, I walk along my own section of their path, yet I remain within the trail that they first fashioned so long ago.

My life is guided by a history that was written through the lives of people who lived before me. Dragging Canoe made a path of freedom for me through his courage. Though his life was far distant on this path, his journey continues through our people who have survived because of his bravery and strength.

Closer to my time on this trail is the story of how my path was chosen. My mom’s maternal grandmother tried to hide her heritage, leaving Oklahoma forever. They never shared information about their past, even with their children. Had that been the only choice made, I might never have known my place on this path. Fortunately for me, my mom’s paternal family boldly shared their history; making certain that we know from where we have come.

When my mother was born, she became ill. Because her clan was not yet revealed by her maternal grandmother, her paternal grandmother presented her to the clan mothers and asked them to allow her adopt my mom into her own clan. She did this because she loved my mother but also because she wanted to have special prayer ceremonies for my mother that could not otherwise be done. Because she was chosen and not born into my grandmother’s clan, my mom was called “Tsasuyed” which means “You are chosen.”

The decision to raise my mother as a member of the Bird Clan meant that many years later, when I finally arrived, I was born into this clan. I was given the name “Walelu” which means “hummingbird”. The elders in this clan tell me that I will forever be known by this clan as one of them because of a decision made before I was even born. They ask me to tell my children who we are so that our clan will not be forgotten. They remind me to tell this story because we have all been chosen by our Creator to walk the path of life. He has given us our place upon it.

I will continue their tradition of sharing our story. I am known by those who have gone before me through what they have done and how they have lived. I will be known as a person who kept our culture alive. I will continue our songs and dances to our Creator, praising Sgiyanehlanv (translation: “our Creator”) for our place on the path that he has given to us.

I will share my tribe’s culture with future generations, whose births will join them to me on our path. I walk the course that my ancestors set me upon; each step guided by the memory of them and by a dream of my children to come. The places where I choose to set my feet will shape the path of my people forever, so I must walk carefully, truthfully, and with honor.

Stefani Erin “Walelu” Ries
Chikamaka Band of The Southeast Cumberland Plateau Region, Inc.,
(official website:
school grade: 9th
Franklin, North Carolina


Karenia Melynda Simpson

Keller, Washington


As I sit in my living room and look around, I see reminders of my culture all around me. I see the baby board I was carried in hanging on the wall. It is sometimes called a papoose carrier. On the wall directly across from me hang a painted hand drum and a flute in its colorful pouch. On the floor beneath it sits a powwow drum hand carved from the trunk of a pine tree. Also on the wall is Indian pottery and beside it a miniature birch bark canoe. There are various beaded medallions, chokers, and necklaces.

On the wall directly behind me is a traditional dance bustle of eagle feathers that my father made. A war lance, painted and decorated with eagle feathers, hangs above a coup stick, adorned with otter fur and finished with an eagle talon. Sitting atop the TV is a beaded crown I wore when I was chosen, ‘Little Miss San Poil’, at our local powwow.

On the wall to my left hang pictures of my family; myself, my nieces, nephews, my five brothers, my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I am struck by the fact that all the family members in the photographs are brown skinned. I think how different this must be from other households.

On the wall of pictures are some photographs of special interest. There are three pictures of my great- grandfather, Billy Simpson, whose real name is Xa’xat (Haw’ hawt), which means Grizzly Bear. He was the son of Cayuse chief She-un-em-kin, who was the son of We-ik-pum. Next to him is a picture of my great- grandmother, Amy Nanamkin Simpson. Her Indian name was Chami’shapen, and she was the granddaughter of Chief Owhi of the Yakama Tribes. Chief Owhi was one of the sons of Chief We-ow-wickt, who was the father of the six chiefs of the Yakama Nation.

The descendants of We-ik-pum were of a warrior society, while the descendants of We-ow- wickt were diplomatic and seekers of peace. They were both strong defenders of their people. The safety and well being of their bands were always foremost in their minds and a determining factor in their course of action; whether it be going to war or negotiating a treaty.

I always endeavor to incorporate my tribal teachings and ethics in my life. I believe this helps me serve as a role model and an example to others. This portrays a positive image to those who are unfamiliar with Native Americans.

Although I now study non-traditional courses in order to prepare myself for success in modern society, I will always have my rich cultural background to guide me in my future. My tribal history will forever be a guiding force in my life, and I will continue in the ways of my ancestors by passing on the oral history of our people. These are the ways of my tribe, as it has been since the beginning of time.

Karenia Melynda Simpson
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
Republic High School, 11th grade
Keller, Washington




There were no entries in the college catagory.


About My Book

Below is a picture of the cover of my book
"This Day in North American Indian History"
Click on the cover to order a copy

Click here to return to the contest page.

Click here to see the 2006 contest entries.

Click here to see the 2004 contest entries.

Click here to go to my main page

Click here to go to the AmericanIndian.Net Store


© Phil Konstantin - 2010-2013