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Seasons Magazines

In the Footsteps of a Warrior: Honoring the Legacy of Trudie Lamb-Richmond

By Wunneanatsu Lamb-Cason


Born in Bridgeport in 1931, Trudie was the eldest child of John and Margaret Ray. John was born and raised in Newtown where his father was a driver for a wealthy family. Relocating from North Carolina in the late 1800s, his parents’ move to Newtown marked them as the sole Afro-Indigenous family in town. Before the move, John’s mother, Mary, sought employment as an English teacher but was unsuccessful among the challenges of the Jim Crow South. Despite adversities, Mary emphasized the importance of education for her children and, eventually, her eldest grandchild, Trudie. Trudie’s mother, Margaret, was a citizen of the Schaghticoke Tribe near Kent. Trudie was heavily influenced by her maternal relatives and her indigenous culture and history. These early influences laid the foundation for Trudie’s lifelong commitment to education and community involvement.


Trudie was a leading voice for indigenous educational and political issues for over 60 years. She was an author, professor, anthropologist, storyteller and Native American rights activist. She leaves behind a legacy of scholarship, advocacy and cultural preservation. A strong matriarch, respected elder and fierce intellectual warrior, Trudie was often described as a force to be reckoned with. Her daughter, Erin Lamb-Meeches, recalls, “My mom began taking my brother and me to protests in the 1960s, even boycotting her favorite wine because of their treatment of field workers. It was her advocacy for human and women’s rights that are interwoven into my earliest memories. I remember sitting under the dining room table as she spoke with other women about what positive effective changes they could work toward for women’s rights.”

In 1973, Trudie traveled to Wounded Knee, South Dakota, to stand with the people of Pine Ridge and members of the American Indian Movement. As a single mother, Trudie was reluctant to leave her children to lend her support to the movement. Ultimately, it was her children who made the decision. According to Lamb-Meeches, “My brother, Jason and I, who were 13 and 11 at the time, told her ‘Mom, you have to go! It’s so important.’” Trudie arrived at Pine Ridge on March 1, 1973, and remained for over 40 days of the 71-day armed occupation.

While Trudie was a staunch advocate, she was known for her soft-spoken voice and gentle generous spirit. She led through her unassuming nature, dedication to her people and remarkable conviction to always do what is right. Trudie married her husband, David Richmond from the Akwesasne Mohawk Reserve in upstate New York, in 1983. Known for her unwavering hospitality and kindness, Trudie and Dave often opened their home to Native people, whether for a meal and warm bed, or a meeting place to discuss the latest land, water or civil rights issues occurring in Indian Country.

In 1974, Trudie, alongside Brian Myles, co-founded American Indians for Development (A.I.D) to provide essential resources, employment and educational services for indigenous people residing in the state. Situated in Meriden, A.I.D emerged as a vital community center where indigenous people found a home away from home, forging lifelong connections and friendships.


Trudie mentored generations of indigenous leaders, educators, museum workers, archaeologists and anthropologists, leaving an enduring imprint on those who worked closely with her. Her career in museums began in the 1980s when she became the director of education at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Connecticut. She poured herself into the programs, exhibits and visitors there for over a decade until she had the unique opportunity to be part of the ground-level team that would lay the foundation for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. As their program manager of education, Trudie designed workshops, school programs and educational curriculum as well as assisted in exhibit content. If you visit the main village exhibit at the Pequot Museum, you can still listen to Trudie’s voice on the audio guides.

“She had a sustained impact on me and how I have approached the broader Native community as an ally,” Dr. Mancini, former executive director of the Pequot Museum and current executive director of Connecticut humanities, reflects on her influence. “So many lessons, conversations and interviews are indelibly printed in my mind. She has shaped my life and sensibilities in powerful ways, and I embrace her warrior spirit as I continue my life in allyship.”

Dr. Nick Bellatoni, emeritus Connecticut State Archaeologist, wrote in an email shortly after Trudie’s passing: “I met Trudie while attending Indian Affairs meetings many years ago. She taught me a great deal about Indian Affairs and Native culture and influenced the way I conducted myself as state archaeologist. She was a powerful educator who used empathy and storytelling to great effect in a traditional Native way. Her wisdom and deliberate voice at meetings I can still hear, influencing all those that sat around the table with her.”

Trudie was a guest lecturer and adjunct professor at several of Connecticut’s leading academic institutions including Yale, Wesleyan, University of Connecticut, University of Hartford and Western Connecticut. University of Connecticut professor Dr. Kevin McBride offers a deeply personal perspective, describing Trudie as one of the most influential figures in his career. Their connection, spanning over 40 years, reflects a mentorship that was more than a professional bond. “Trudie was my mentor, teacher, colleague, best friend and wine-drinking buddy. I learned so much from her in the 40 years I knew her and think of her every day,” shares McBride, highlighting the multifaceted nature of their relationship. His daily reflections on her impact emphasize the enduring legacy she left not only in the professional realm but also in the personal lives of those fortunate enough to know her.

Indian Rights/Culture

In 1982, she was elected tribal chairperson of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation—the only woman ever. Her dream was to see the tribe thrive in their sovereign governance economically, culturally and academically. Trudie served on the Connecticut Indian Affairs Council and was appointed to the Legislative Indian Task Force by Governor William O’Neill in 1987. It was through these roles that Trudie was able to be a voice for Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples, advocating for legislation and policies concerning economic jurisdiction, reservation development and educational programs for tribal youth.

Trudie was an accomplished lecturer and captivating master storyteller; she was a culture bearer and traditional keeper of stories, participating in cultural exchange programs worldwide including one trip to Hong Kong, China. She once visited her granddaughter stationed in Italy and took time to share stories and talk about Native American culture at the local elementary school. Trudie was the recipient of the First Peoples Fund Community Spirit Award for her contributions as a storyteller and efforts to maintain a sense of pride and community amongst indigenous people. Fittingly, her name, Kekiokwashawe means “she gathers the people.”

Trudie Lamb Richmond’s legacy lies not just in her accomplishments but in the essence of who she was at her core. In her final months, as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease slowly erased her memories and identity, her compassion and humanity continued to shine through. In a poignant moment, seated in a hospital bed, Trudie turned to her daughter, Erin, with a series of questions: “How many children do I have?,” “How many grandchildren?” “What is my role?,” and “I’m not sure what I should be doing.”

Amidst the fog of confusion, Trudie quietly lamented, “I don’t feel like I’ve done enough.” Trying to console her, Erin said, “Mom, you’ve done so much for so many people! You’ve accomplished so much for so many; it’s time for you to rest and allow someone else to continue what you started.” Trudie’s quiet yet firm reply resonated with a profound truth: “We should never say we’re done. There is always one more woman who needs a helping hand, one more child who needs an education. We should never say we are done.”

In these poignant words, Trudie encapsulated the essence of her life’s purpose: a tireless advocate for others and a compassionate force that believed in the perpetual journey of making a positive impact, particularly for marginalized communities. Even in the face of debilitating illnesses, her spirit remained undaunted, an unwavering testament to her enduring commitment to the well-being of others. Her influence reverberates through the Connecticut halls of academia, the corridors and archives of our museums, and in the hearts of those who knew her. As we explore the Connecticut landscape, from university campuses to tribal powwows and cultural gatherings, her ripple effect is palpable. Trudie Lamb Richmond’s legacy, therefore, goes beyond the tangible achievements and stands as a reminder that the true measure of a person lies in the compassion and determination that resides within their core.



Wunneanatsu Lamb-Cason (Schaghticoke/HoChunk),Trudie Lamb-Richmond’s first-born grandchild, is a traditional storyteller, published author and founder of Eastern Woodlands Education Consultants, LLC. She works as an educational consultant and high school history teacher in Virginia where she lives with her husband and five children.