Thompson student displays Nipmuck artifacts

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Mon., Dec. 9, 2013
Samuel Riccardi stands next to the display case at the Thompson Public Library. Photos by D. Coffey.
Samuel Riccardi stands next to the display case at the Thompson Public Library. Photos by D. Coffey.

The display case at the Thompson Public Library is dense with historical and pictorial information about the Nipmuck Indians. Thompson Middle School student Samuel Riccardi has been collecting the artifacts for years. He is a bonafide member of the Chaubunagungamaug band of Nipmuck Indians and he has the tribal identification to prove it.

Riccardi and his mother, Diane, have filled the library’s three display shelves with posters, woven quivers, vases, books, pelts, talking sticks, and a variety of artifacts that give tribute to the tribe that once called Lake Chaubunagungamaug (Lake Webster) home.
He wasn’t always interested in the objects, admitted Riccardi’s mother. “He preferred trucks when he was younger,” she said.

At his naming ceremony at Webster Reservation when he was 6 months old, he was given the name “Red Cloud.” It’s the name he’s called at pow-wows. He attends them as often as he can. He has been taking language lessons with David Tall Pine. And he is learning how to drum.

The display carries interesting information: the Indian profile on the Buffalo nickel, otherwise known as the Indian Head nickel, was fashioned by sculptor James Earle Fraser. Fraser used three Indians for the design: Iroquois Chief John Big Tree, Sioux Chief Iron Tail and Two Moons, a Cheyenne chief.

Riccardi is hoping to do a presentation on native Americans for the curriculum fair at his school. He’ll have plenty to share with his classmates.

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