Our Current Medicine Woman
Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, Medicine Woman and Tribal Historian
Medicine Woman Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel has taken a very active role in the cultural and historical concerns of the Mohegan Tribe since her childhood in Uncasville, Connecticut, and was appointed Mohegan Medicine Woman in April 2008. Her great-aunt, Medicine Woman Dr. Gladys Tantaquidgeon, trained her in Tribal oral tradition, traditional lifeways and spiritual beliefs.
After graduating from The Williams School in New London, Connecticut, Melissa moved to Washington, D.C. where she earned a B.S.F.S. in history/diplomacy from Georgetown University. She also holds an M.A. in history from the University of Connecticut and an M.F.A. from Fairfield University in creative writing.
Zobel’s writing on Native issues has been a constant in her life. In 1992, she won the first annual Non-Fiction Award of the Native Writer’s Circle of the Americas, for her manuscript The Lasting of the Mohegans (Mohegan: Little People Publications, 1995). Shortly after that, Zobel became the first American Indian appointed by Governor Weicker to the Connecticut Historical Commission. In 1996, she received the first annual Chief Little Hatchet Award, granted for contributions to the success and survival of the Mohegan people. Zobel has written several other books under the name Melissa Jayne Fawcett, including Medicine Trail: The Life and Lessons of Gladys Tantaquidgeon (University of Arizona Press, 2000) and a traditional Mohegan children’s story co-authored with Joseph Bruchac, entitled Makiawisug: The Gift of the Little People (Mohegan: Little People Publications, 1997). She is one of several Mohegan authors included in the anthology Dawnland Voices (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). Zobel has also authored novels involving mystery and supernatural elements in a Native context, including Oracles, (University of New Mexico Press, 2004) Fire Hollow (Raven’s Wing Books, 2010) and Wabanaki Blues (Poisoned Pen Press, 2015).
Melissa is the daughter of Mohegan Nonner Jayne Fawcett and Dr. Richard Fawcett, and the mother of three adult children who continue to maintain the family’s Native concerns in the areas of Indian research, theater, and law. She is married to her high school sweetheart Randy Zobel and lives in Mystic, Connecticut.