The New England area is rich with Native American history and culture, yet we largely ignore it. Dozens of bands of Algonquians, connected by a common language or variations of it, inhabited New England, including the Abenaki, Massachusett, Mohegan, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Passamaquoddy, Pennacook, Penobscot, Pequot, Quinnipiac, and of course, the Wampanoag, to name a few.

Why don't we know more about these people and their civilizations? They greeted our ancestors as they arrived on this continent, and some could argue that they kept many European settlers from perishing early on. While some of the tribal names are recognizable, many are not.

We know the Pequots and Mohegans have casinos in Connecticut and that there is a Narragansett Beer. You may not have known that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is named for the Massachusett tribe. Have you ever heard about King Phillip's War? You should, because it happened right here.

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There are plenty of towns, roads, schools, and parks with Native American words as names such as Acushnet, Apponagansett Park, Sconticut Neck Road, and even the quahogs we enjoy so much have a name of Native American origin.

The debate over whether to retire the Dartmouth Indians' name and logo from the Town of Dartmouth's school system has ignited a discussion about our Native American connection and the history and culture of the indigenous people who lived here.

We don't know more about the region's history because it is not taught in our schools. It should be. Legislation should be filed requiring Massachusetts public schools to instruct students about Native American and early American history as it was here in Massachusetts.

All Massachusetts residents should know about the contributions of the Native Americans who occupied this land before we did, and those contributions should be celebrated proudly. We are a people rich in history and culture, and we chose to ignore it rather than appreciate it.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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