Celebrate Green Corn in Litchfield Hills

The Institute for American Indian Studies Museum and Research Center in Washington CT is hosting it’s Annual Green Corn Festival on Saturday, August 2 from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm on the grounds of the Museum located on 38 Curtis Road. The event will be held rain or shine. Adults: $10; children: $6.

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Green Corn Festivals are held all over Native America between May and October. The events are both a celebration and a religious ceremony. They celebrate the ripening of the first corn of the year depending on geographic location. The whole idea is to give thanks to the Creator, the Great Spirit, for the corn, the rain and sun that nurture it.

Traditionally corn has been an integral part of the annual cycle of life for Native American People and this Festival celebrates the first corn of the season. Fun filled activities for the whole family including drumming, dancing, face painting, kids’ crafts, and more make this event memorable.

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Highlights of the event include exciting Native American ceremonies including traditional Eastern Woodland song & dance with the Native Nation Dancers, Schaghticoke, Objiwa and Lumbee, dancing both Northern and Southern Traditional styles. A highlight this year will be the all female drumming group, Spirit of Thunderheart of Schaghticoke, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Cree and Cherokee ancestry; other performers include musician Allan Madahbee, Ojibwa; Storyteller Janis Us, Mohawk-Shinnecock descent, and Abenaki Chef and Author, Dale Carson.

A favorite of young and old alike are the Native American folktales told by storyteller, Janis Us of Mohawk-Shinnecock descent. Kids will enjoy Native American inspired crafts and facepainting.

Two not to be missed features of the Festival are the crafts for sale by local Native American artisans and a taste of traditional cooking including Pow-wow style food for sale in the outdoor Algonkian Village hosted by Dale Carson, of Abenaki descent.

About the Institute for American Indian Studies Museum and Research Center
The focus of the Institute has always been stewardship and preservation. In 1991, the name was changed to the Institute for American Indian Studies. With the name change there was a shift in focus to include education in conjunction with research.

The ethnographic collection of the Institute for American Indian Studies contains over 6,000 cultural items. While focusing on the Eastern Woodlands Peoples, the collection represents indigenous communities throughout the western hemisphere. Items vary in raw material composition – textiles, wood, stone, clay, glass, shell and semi-precious jewels – function and style from moccasins, rugs, baskets and leggings to containers, weaponry, personal accessories, recreational objects and fine art.

The Research & Collections Building is artifact-friendly with a climate controlled vault and spacious laboratory. It is home to an abundance of collections, both ethnographic and archaeological. It also houses both an education and research library, containing over 2,000 books and journals and is open only by appointment (860-868-0518 ext.109).

For Museum hours and other special events visit: http://www.birdstone.org. For information on Litchfield Hills www.litchfieldhills.com

Native American Quill and Beadwork in Litchfield Hills

In northwest Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills, the Institute for American Indian Studies on 38 Curtis Road in Washington is presenting a quill and bead work exhibition of Chris Bullock who is of Wampanoag descent.

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Since childhood, Chris has participated in Native American cultural events and has been crafting his own work for 47 years. He also provides educational programming on eighteenth century Native culture.

Chris oversees the daily operation of The Wandering Bull, LLC, a family business his parents began in 1969 that is located in Washington, New Hampshire. The Wandering Bull sells Native craft supplies, as well as vintage and antique Native art with a focus on the Northeast Woodlands.

The exhibit runs through November 30, 2013. There is no charge for this exhibition. Museum Hours: Monday through Saturday 10am to 5pm Sunday from 12 Noon to 5pm Last admission at 4:30pm. For more information www.iaismuseum.org and for information on Litchfield Hills Connecticut www.litchfieldhills.com

Twined Art at the Institute for American Indian Studies

The exhibition Woven from Milk Weed by Wabanaki Artist Vera Longtoe Sheehan opens at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington Connecticut runs through May 31, 2013. There is no charge for this exhibition. The Museum is open Monday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday 12 noon to 5pm. The last admission is at 4:30 pm.

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Vera Longtoe Sheehan is a fiber artist who follows in the footsteps of her ancestors. When she was young, her father started teaching her how to harvest and process plants to make cordage. He also taught her the various techniques that she uses to make twined bags, baskets and textiles.

Vera combines her tribal and family knowledge with many years of researching Wabanaki history, culture and tradition to create her one of a kind twined woven items. She uses both hand-rolled and commercially rolled plant fiber cordage. Each of the hand items can take hours, days, weeks or even months to complete.

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Her twined art is environmentally friendly because it is made from plants, which are quick growing, renewable resources. She is currently teaching her children to twine, so that this endangered art form is not lost. Some of her twined bags, baskets and textiles have appeared in films and literature.

The artist and her family reside in Vermont. She offers a variety of programs for schools, museums and historic sites.

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“Meet the Artist” Reception is Sunday, April 7th from 1pm -3pm. The reception includes refreshments at 2pm.

For more information about the Institute for American Indian Studies located on 38 Curtis Rd. in Washington CT call 860-868-0518 or visit www.iaismuseum.org. For area information www.litchfieldhills.com.

Native American Drum Making Workshop at The Institute for American Indian Studies

The most important Native American instrument was and still is the drum. Most Native Americans prefer to use drums made from traditional materials made by a master drum maker or make their own. This is because of the strong spiritual associations of the drum….it is the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

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Indigenous peoples made several kinds of drums; log drum, water drum and the most common, the hand drum. Hand drums could be single or double-headed. In the northeast region they were traditionally made using a wooden base and an animal hide; typically deer or elk.

The drum is considered to be the first musical instrument used by humans; historians believe the drum has been virtually every culture known to mankind. The original purpose was for communicating over long distances as a type of signal.

On Saturday, February 23 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Allan Madahbee, Ojibway artist and musician, will instruct participants in making their own single-face drum while sharing the importance of the drum in Native American culture. This workshop is recommended for cildren ages 12 and up. The workshop fee is $150; $125 IAIS Members. Reservations and a $50 nonrefundable deposit is required by calling 860-868-0518. The museum is located on 38 Curtis Rd. in Washington Connecticut. For additional information www.iaismuseum.org. For area information www.litchfieldhills.com

About The Institute for American Indian Studies

IAIS is a Not-For-Profit organization. We do not receive monies from the State, Town of Washington nor any other museum or gaming facility. We reply on membership, programs and contributions for support.

Winter happenings at The Institute for American Indian Studies

The Institute for American Indian Studies is offering a series of January events that will help families warm up to this chilly season of the year. On Tuesdays through February 12 from 10:30 a.m. through 11:30 a.m. for example pre-school children will enjoy the wonders and joy of traditional Native American stories. Why does Bear have a short tail? Who is Gluskabi and from where did his superpowers come? And why is Coyote known as a “trickster?” An added treat is that the stories are told in a beautifully replicated 16th century indoor Sachem’s house. The story hour is included free with regular museum admission of $5 Adults; $4.50 Seniors; $3 Kids; IAIS Members Free. www.iaismuseum.org

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On Saturday January 19 and Sunday January 20 at 2 p.m. guests will enjoy a Winter Film Festival that features a documentary called Reel Injun. Native American peoples have long been a topic in Hollywood filmmaking, but the picture presented of them was not always flattering or accurate. Most westerns of Hollywood’s Golden Age presented “Indians” as either ruthless savages with no sense of honor or fools who were lost without the help of the white man. Adding insult to injury, they were usually played by white actors in make up. In the 1960s movies began to show a more positive and realistic portrayal of American Indians and Native American actors were given a greater opportunity to present their story in television and the movies. Director Neil Diamond (a member of Canada’s Cree community) offers a look at the past, present and future of Native People on the big screen in this documentary. The film is included free with regular museum admission of $5 Adults; $4.50 seniors; $3 Kids; IAIS Members Free. www.iaismuseum.org

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Also on January 26 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. it is time to put on your winter boots and go on a Winter Tracking Walk. Certified wildlife tracker Andy Dobosof Three Red Trees School of Natural Living will lead you through the winter woods to discover how the animals live in this stark time of year. He will also demonstrate some of the skills ancient people employed to survive during the winter months. Fee: $8 Adults; $6 IAIS Members; $4 Children. www.iaismuseum.org

About IAIS
Through discovery, research and education, the Institute for American Indian Studies enriches contemporary society by engaging the public and making more visible the history, cultural values, beliefs and living traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere, especially those of the Northeast. With its museum, archaeology, research and unique collection, IAIS creates a focal point for the community by preserving the knowledge of the continuing stories of these indigenous peoples.

For area information www.litchfieldhills.com

A Time For Storytelling at Institute for American Indian Studies November 24

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According to Native American lore, the art of telling stories is an important apect of culture heritage and sharing from one generation to another. Janis, a US, Mohawk-Shinnecock descent notes from “Four Hearts Whispering”, “”We tell our stories to entertain, but they do much more than that. They teach life’s important lessons — to young and old alike. Stories can explain the natural world around us and connect us to our past”

On Saturday, November 24 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. families are invited to share in a Native American cultural experience at the Indian Institue for American Studies on 38 Curtis Road in Washington Connecticut.

It is said that in New England Native American life, stories are traditionally told as the days grow shorter and the winds blow colder. During this special time of year, participants are invited to gather with storyteller, Four Hearts Whispering at the ndian Institue for American Studies and enjoy her delightful and heartwarming traditional Native American stories. There will be a short intermission break where children will be invited to participate in a simple craft.

Please call (860) 868-0518 for reservations. Fee: $5 Adults; $6 Kids. For information visit http://www.iaismuseum.org. For area information visit http://www.litchfieldhills.com

About the Indian Institue for American Studies

Located in Washington, Connecticut, the Institute for American Indian Studies (IAIS) – formerly the American Indian Archaeological Institute (AIAI) – was incorporated in 1975 as an outgrowth of local efforts to recover New England’s then-largely-unknown indigenous history. IAIS is a 501(c)3 museum and research center founded by Edmund “Ned” Swigart and Sidney Hessel. In the early 1970s volunteers of all ages joined Ned – an instructor at the Gunnery School and head of the Wappinger Chapter of the Connecticut Archaeological Society – to dig in and around Washington. A multitude of discoveries pointed to extensive native settlements and soon the back room of the Gunn Historical Museum overflowed with artifacts and field notes in need of analysis. Volunteer archaeologists joined forces with volunteer fundraisers and the American Indian Archaeological Institute opened on July 1, 1975.

Since 1975, AIAI – and later, IAIS – has surveyed or excavated over 500 sites, including the remarkable discovery of a 10,000-year-old camp site, the earliest known archaeological site in Connecticut. But archaeology is about so much more than excavating sites or collecting stone tools; it is about people. Through archaeology, we are able to build new understandings of the world and history of Native Americans. This history echoes throughout all history and informs us in the present. With full awareness of the importance of keeping this knowledge alive, the focus of the Institute has always been stewardship and preservation. In 1991, our name was changed to the Institute for American Indian Studies and there was a shift in focus to include education in conjunction with research. Today, in addition to special events and workshops, IAIS also houses a knowledgeable Education Department, dedicated to developing and providing in-depth and exciting programs for students of all ages. Schools from throughout the region take advantage of the Institute’s on-site facilities, while schools from across the country contact IAIS looking for reliable and accurate information.

IAIS continues to be a membership organization. In addition to annual support from members, IAIS reaches out to foundations and corporations for grant and funding opportunities. This year, more than 10,000 people visited us and another 15,000 students participated in our education programs. We offer workshops, films and lectures throughout the year. The Litchfield Hills Archaeology Club, under the direction of IAIS’s Director of Research and Collections, Dr. Lucianne Lavin, offers a summer excavation of a village dating back over 4,000 years, as well as a lecture series during the winter months. Our Museum Shop, which is an integral part of the museum, is always stocked with Native American gifts and crafts from across North America.

A respect for the earth and for all living things is central to Native American lifeways and this is reflected throughout our museum, which is nestled in 15 acres of woodlands and trails. Outdoors we have created a Simulated Archaeological Site, Three Sisters and Healing Plants Gardens, as well as a replicated 16th century Algonkian Village. The village is based upon traditional knowledge and archaeological research and is built from local natural materials. Self-guided trails let visitors explore the seasonal world of Woodland Indian peoples. Inside, our museum exhibits present information on a spectrum of topics related to the lives and cultures of prehistoric, historic and contemporary Native Americans. Permanent exhibits include Quinnetukut: Our Homeland, Our Story; From East To West: Across Our Homelands; Digging into the Past: Archaeology in Connecticut; a Sachem’s wigwam (longhouse) classroom with a beautifully painted lifeways mural; and a replicated early-1900s Northeastern reservation house room. Changing exhibits and the shop’s Artist’s Corner give visitors a reason to come back again and again. IAIS is open seven days a week year-round. Something exciting and different is always happening here. It is a place of discovery…a place to return to.