Executive Director – Educator – Activist
A member of the Narragansett tribe, Lorén Spears sat in history class in elementary school shocked and saddened to read that she, her family, and her community supposedly didn’t exist.
Since then, Spears has made it her mission to correct that misrepresentation. Spears does more than merely exist.
The executive director of the Tomaquag Museum, a former two-time councilwoman of the Narragansett and a longtime educator, Spears serves as a voice for the Indigenous community. She works tirelessly to empower Native youth and educate the public on Native history, culture, the environment, and the arts.
Spears strives to preserve the Indigenous culture and shares her cultural knowledge and traditional arts with the public through museum programs and publications. Under Spears’ direction and leadership, Tomaquag Museum received a National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. She accepted the award from former First Lady Michelle Obama.
An educator and artist for more than 30 years, she has been an adjunct professor at Brown University and at her alma mater, the University of Rhode Island, where the new Tomaquag Museum will be unveiled in 2023. She serves on many boards, including the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, The Met School, and the Rhode Island History Records Advisory Board. Spears uses her pen to preserve Indigenous history. She is author of several publications, including Through Our Eyes: An Indigenous View of Mashapaug Pond and The Pursuit of Happiness: An Indigenous View.
She uses her art to keep the Indigenous culture vibrant. She uses her voice in hopes of eradicating poverty in the Indigenous communities throughout Rhode Island.
Why is Papitto Opportunity Connection and its mission of bettering the BIPOC communities so important to you?
“The Papitto Opportunity Connection and its mission of bettering the BIPOC communities is so important to me because it is long overdue for empowering and impacting communities that have been historically oppressed or marginalized due to conquest, colonization, enslavement, forced assimilation, economic inequities, and environmental injustices. POC is working with community leaders to ensure position, proactive and quantifiable change takes place that empowers the next generations. “