Vintage photograph of a woman in traditional attire framed by colorful tribal patterns in red, blue, and green. The surrounding design features intricate dot and leaf motifs.

New Wisconsin Biographies shares legacy of Mohican teacher, mentor

November 2, 2023 Ian Lewitz Leave a Comment

PBS Wisconsin Education is thrilled to launch the newest addition to the Wisconsin  Biographies collection. Electa Quinney: Mohican Teacher and Mentor was created in collaboration with the Stockbridge Munsee Community to share Quinney’s legacy of generosity and her dedication to education.

Known as the first public school teacher in Wisconsin, the animated video depicting Quinney’s story will premiere at approximately 7:55 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the conclusion of Finding Your Roots on PBS Wisconsin.

The full resource including the animated video is available to explore online now.

Wisconsin Biographies is a collection of free-to-use, educational, online media resources to enrich social studies and literacy curriculum, using the stories of notable people in Wisconsin history.  The collection brings Quinney’s story to life for learners today, with an animated video, a digital book with audio, a gallery of historical images and an educator guide.

PBS Wisconsin Education staff working with Stockbridge-Munsee Community members.

PBS Wisconsin Education staff working with Stockbridge-Munsee Community members.

Through an inclusive production model, PBS Wisconsin Education seeks to feature identities, perspectives and experiences behind the scenes in the making of educational media.

For the production of Electa Quinney: Mohican Teacher and Mentor, PBS Wisconsin Education worked with scriptwriters, story consultants, voiceover artists, music talent and advisors, and worked to gain approval on various aspects of the project from the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians Tribal Council.

PBS Wisconsin director of education Megan Monday felt fortunate to work with the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians Community, including Monique Tyndall, director of the tribal nation’s cultural affairs office, and the individuals who contributed to the production.

“We couldn’t have done justice to the Electa Quinney story without the deep collaboration from the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Community,” Monday said. “Working directly with the community ensured historical and representational accuracy and enhanced the art and storytelling of the resources.”

The inclusive production model also includes educators and other participants from across the state.

Animation still from Electa Quinney Wisconsin Biography

Animation still from Electa Quinney: Mohican Teacher and Mentor

Quinney is the first known person in what is now Wisconsin to start teaching Native and non Native students together, though her story began long before she arrived.

She was a member of the Mohican people whose homelands were in the region we now call the Hudson River Valley in New York. They were forced to leave by invading European settlers, and then later by American colonists. As a young girl, Quinney, along with several other Stockbridge Mohican girls, went away to school for their community members to gain both Native and non-Native education in an attempt to keep their homelands. Still, upon returning, her community was forced to leave again, moving to what is now Wisconsin.

At that time, Quinney was one of the people who helped carry important possessions and Mohican traditions from their homelands in the East. Shortly after arriving, she started teaching, making her the first public school teacher in Wisconsin. She taught many subjects to both Native and non-Native students together, an example of her generosity.

Animation still of Electa Quinney in horse drawn wagon.

Animation from Electa Quinney Mohican Teacher and Mentor

Quinney’s contributions to society extend beyond the borders of the state and the times she lived in. Her family carried on her legacy as a leader in the community, and her story continues to inspire the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans today. Her story represents the Mohican people’s resilience in the face of forced removals as they carried their traditions to Wisconsin.

“I look forward to young learners from the Stockbridge-Munsee Community seeing a part of their history represented in educational media and in an animated art form,” Monday said.

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