Digging Into the Past By Lake and Land

The Institute for American Indian Studies is hosting a free event on July 22 and on July 28 on Lake Waramaug at the Warren Town Beach located on North Shore Road off of Rte. 45 on the New Preston and Warren Town line. From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. participants will experience the historic legacy of our Native American past by taking a free ride in an authentically made Native American dugout canoe and watching an archeological dig that is taking place in a meadow across the street.

Dugout Canoe Rides

Today cars, cell phones, social media, and the Internet connect us, it is the way most of us share ideas and keep in touch with each other. For the Eastern Woodland Indians, rivers and waterways served as the high-speed highways that connected tribes as the quickest way to move from place to place. The importance of dugout canoes or mishoon as they are called in Wampanoag and Algonkian languages were like today’s digital cables because they connected tribes and spread ideas. Dugout canoes also facilitated fishing, hunting, and trade during pre and post contact time.

This free opportunity to paddle in an authentically made dugout canoe is a once in a lifetime experience that gives us a glimpse into Native American’s rich cultural history of how indigenous people lived in the Eastern Woodlands. Jeff Kalin, one of the leading primitive technologists in the country made this dugout canoe using traditional Native American construction methods.

About Native American Dugout Canoes

Making a dugout canoe is a mammoth undertaking and began with taking down a massive tree that was usually located near a river or lake. To fell a tree for a dugout canoe, Native Americans coated the base of a tree with mud and straw and built a fire that charred the trunk. As soon as the tree was down, the bark (that would be used to build wigwams) was removed and the ends of the trunk was cut and shaped into a point so that the canoe would move either direction. A small fire was started on top of the stripped tree trunk to burn out the top and bottom surface of the trunk. Stone hand tools would be used to scrape out and hollow the log and flatten the bottom of the canoe. The final step was to coat the canoe in bear grease to waterproof the wood.

Archeological Dig – July 22

If you are interested in archeology, this is your chance to dig into the past with The Litchfield Hills Archaeology Club on July 22. The excavation will take place within walking distance of the dugout canoe launch spot on North Shore Road from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

It is exciting to watch the challenge of finding where and how ancient people once lived in Connecticut where there are so few above ground clues. Perhaps, in this newly excavated area, an artifact may be found that has not been touched by human hands since it was discarded hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago – artifacts that may shed light on how ancient man lived in Connecticut and in our beautiful Eastern Woodlands.

The Institute for American Indian Studies

Located on 15 woodland acres the IAIS has an outdoor Three Sisters and Healing Plants Gardens as well as a replicated 16th c. Algonkian Village. Inside the museum, authentic artifacts are displayed in permanent, semi-permanent and temporary exhibits from prehistory to the present that allows visitors a walk through time. The Institute for American Indian Studies is located on 38 Curtis Road in Washington Connecticut and can be reached online or by calling 860-868-0518.

The Institute for American Indian Studies preserves and educates through discovery and creativity the diverse traditions, vitality, and knowledge of Native American cultures. Through archaeology, the IAIS is able to build new understandings of the world and history of Native Americans, the focus is on stewardship and preservation. This is achieved through workshops, special events, and education for students of all ages.

Call for Entries – Seaport Photo Contest Through August 25

Do you know what an award-winning photo looks like for Sheffield Island Lighthouse? To find out the Seaport Association of Norwalk is calling for entries to the “150 Anniversary Celebration Photo Contest” of the Sheffield Island Lighthouse that is taking place through August 25, 2018.

Get your camera ready. It doesn’t matter if you are a first time visitor or, one that puts Sheffield Island on your bucket list every summer, the Seaport Association can’t wait to see the images that connect people to Sheffield Island’s 150-year-old history.
Perhaps it is a moment of family fun on the beach looking for shells with our classic lighthouse in the background or the first time you stepped foot onto Sheffield Island in full pirate garb watching pirates cavort in the shadows cast by our lighthouse.

Maybe your image will be the best view of the lighthouse tower and lantern or one that shows the pier and its natural surroundings that is a testament to why we have treasured this maritime landmark for 150 years and counting.

It could be as simple as capturing the architectural beauty of the stonework of the lighthouse, reflections on water, or a birds-eye view of Norwalk’s coastline. The choice is yours.

Contest Rules
The rules to enter our contest are simple. The Seaport Association’s Photo Contest in celebration of Sheffield Island’s 150 Anniversary is open to all photographers, beginners, amateurs, and pros are invited to submit their photos that discover and captivate the ecological beauty and cultural heritage of Sheffield Island on one of our cruises to the Sheffield Island Lighthouse.

To Enter follow @Norwalkseaport on Instagram. Tag @Norwalkseaport and use #SILH150.
There is one entry per contestant. The First Place Prize is $250, the Second Place Prize is $100 and the Third Place Prize is $50.

This is your chance to submit your most beautiful and creative photos of the lighthouse. Winners will be announced at the Norwalk Oyster Festival.

For the Love of Oysters in Westport

Oysters were the quintessential American food – especially in the estuaries and inlets of shoreline Connecticut where they grow in natural abundance.  The Westport Historical Society is celebrating the culture and lore of oystering on Long Island Sound with a month-long exhibit through July 29 entitled Westport Is Your Oyster.

The exhibit offers a glimmer into Westport and Norwalk’s oystering history using original artifacts and objects from the private collections of Ms. Robin Tauck and Mr. Norman Bloom as well as items from our permanent collection.  Ephemera relating to the consumption of oysters round out a display that includes tools of the trade and archival documents.  Oysters have been enjoyed by native people who seared them in hot coals, in a method later adopted by European colonists.  In those days, the oysters pulled from the waters around Westport were as large as dinner plates. 

The Westport Historical Society is located on 25 Avery Place in Westport and is open Tues.-Sat. 10 am – 4 p.m. and Sun. noon to 4 p.m. 

Medicinal Monday – Gooseberries or Currants?

A flavorful shrub in the currant family produces a flavorful fruit popular with Native Americans called a gooseberry. The gooseberry is another name for several of the many varieties of currants that grow all over North America. The name gooseberry is a direct translation of the Kiowa, Omaha and Ponca terms for this fruit.

About Gooseberries
Currant bushes are small and grow no more than six feet tall and usually measure about three feet. They have fragrant yellow five petal flowers in May or June and round black, red, or blue color fruit that usually ripens in July and August. Gooseberries usually grow on hillsides or on the border of woods or near swamps and beside rivers and streams. Cultivated forms of gooseberries are divided into either European or American; the difference is in the size of the fruit and the flavor. North American gooseberries are said to be smaller and have less flavor than there European counterpart, however, they are more resistant to diseases.

Medicinal and Culinary Uses
Native Americans ate gooseberries raw, they also cooked with them. Gooseberries were also dried or preserved and made into jellies or jams. The Hidatsa tribe considered gooseberries a desireable wild fruit, while the Hopi, would caution against eating too much of this fruit because it could make you sick to your stomach. The Gitksan of British Columbia put them in thin dry cakes that they ate with oil of eulachon, salmon, groundhog, or bear during the winter months. Many tribes made dried currant cakes and also used them in soup and to flavor stews. The leaves of the plant were dried for tea and the young leaves were cooked with meat.

The Kiowa used the raw fruit of the gooseberry as a remedy for snakebite because they believed that snakes did not like this berry and kept away from this shrub. A decoction made from the steam of the skunk red current was used to prevent blood clotting after giving birth. Other parts of this plant were used to treat colds, coughs, diabetes, diarrhea and to prevent miscarriages.

Did You Know…
There are many types of gooseberries or currants including the wax, bear, squaw, buffalo, clove, black, Missouri, golden and flowering currants.

Gooseberries are tart, low in calories, fat and cholesterol free and high in Vitamin C and A.

Gooseberries and currents can be easily distinguished by thorns; gooseberries usually have thorns and currants do not.

In the early 1900s the Federal and State Governments outlawed the growing of currants and gooseberries to prevent the spread of white pine blister rust. Massachusetts still prohibits the cultivation of this plant.

The Institute for American Indian Studies

Located on 15 woodland acres the IAIS has an outdoor Three Sisters and Healing Plants Gardens as well as a replicated 16th c. Algonkian Village. Inside the museum, authentic artifacts are displayed in permanent, semi-permanent and temporary exhibits from prehistory to the present that allows visitors a walk through time. The Institute for American Indian Studies is located on 38 Curtis Road in Washington Connecticut and can be reached online or by calling 860-868-0518.
The Institute for American Indian Studies preserves and educates through discovery and creativity the diverse traditions, vitality, and knowledge of Native American cultures. Through archaeology, the IAIS is able to build new understandings of the world and history of Native Americans, the focus is on stewardship and preservation. This is achieved through workshops, special events, and education for students of all ages.

“To Mexico & Back: Alison Palmer’s Paper and Clay” @ Brookfield Craft Center

There will be an opening reception from 5 to 7 pm on July 7 at the Brookfield Craft Center of the work of Alison Palmer, whose work will be on display through July 29. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Friday noon – 5pm, Saturday 11-5pm, Sunday Noon – 4pm.

Ms. Palmer resides in Kent. She received a BFA in ceramics from the California College of Arts. Her works are represented in numerous galleries, museum shops and catalogs throughout the U.S. a nd abroad.

Ms. Palmer’s work is about the celebration of life and the natural world. “Animal imagery in clay has always been my chosen expression. Sometimes I make pots into animals and sometimes animals out of my pots. My search is to find the balance between pottery form and animal form the winter fit as one. I strive to achieve a lighthearted meld”.

Spending time in Mexico has influenced her artistic direction and endeavors. “Spending the winter in Merida, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. There is limited access to good clay there, but I wanted to continue practicing my art. I began making papier-mache masks since I wanted to make art that was relevant to Mexican culture. Papier-mache is accessible to everyone. Every child has at least one piñata for their birthday. The parades are full of giant puppets, gigantes, with masks made of papier-mache. It is my way of meeting and connecting with people”.

Howard Lasser, Brookfield Craft Center Executive Director said: “we are always excited to provide local artists a venue to exhibit their work, and this exhibition of multi media work is an exceptional opportunity for the public to see and experience a mix of work and cultural exploration”.

Ahoy Mateys! The Pirate Adventure on Sheffield Island

Scallywags of all ages can step into a world of swashbuckling rogues, dastardly villains, infamous she-pirates and wicked wenches on July 14 and 15 when purchasing a ferry ride ticket to Sheffield Island for the annual Pirates Weekend hosted by the Seaport Association in Norwalk.

Find your sea legs and hop aboard the C.J. Toth Ferry for a cruise to Sheffield Island. Arriving on the Island, guests will be greeted and entertained by a roving gang of rowdy pirates. Kids can hunt for treasure on the beach, play games, sing sea chanteys, watch swordplay, listen to tall tales of thrill and danger, and hear colorful stories of pirates near and far. Who knows what secrets they will reveal!

This is the weekend to experience the freedom of a pirate’s life, and to learn about their lore and history! The pirates that invade Sheffield Island every summer are different. They enjoy taking a break from their adventures on the seven seas and come to Sheffield Island to have a boatload of fun with those lucky scallywags visiting during the Pirates Weekend.

All pirate fun and games are free with the purchase of a ferry ticket. The ferry departs the dock at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on both days, Saturday and Sunday. It is best to arrive 30 minutes before the boat departs the dock that is located on 4 North Water Street in Norwalk in the parking lot of the Maritime Aquarium. Parking is available at the Maritime Garage. For tickets https://seaport.org/page-18092

About the Seaport Association
The Norwalk Seaport Association was founded in 1978 by a group of local citizens who had a vision to revitalize South Norwalk and preserve Norwalk’s maritime heritage.

The Norwalk Seaport Association offers a cultural, environmental, and historical journey to the Norwalk Islands. The Sheffield Island Lighthouse and the Light Keeper’s Cottage provide a unique historical and educational venue, which strives to increase awareness, appreciation and consideration for our environment and how the preservation of historic buildings and nature contribute to our quality of life.

It is our belief that preservation strengthens the perpetual partnership between the past, the present and the future. The combination of the Lighthouse and the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge offers an unparalleled opportunity to educate children of all ages and adults about the importance of preserving Long Island Sound, our environment and maritime heritage.

Independence Day in Norwalk

The Norwalk Historical Society is celebrating the 4th of July this year at the historic Mill Hill Historic Park on 2 East Wall Street from, noon to 4 p.m.  The day will begin with local historian Madeleine Eckert who will present a lecture on “Searching for Norwalk’s Black Patriots”. This exciting slide lecture utilizes a number of source documents to weave a visual narrative of Norwalk’s fascinating 18th-century Black history.  

Beginning at 1 p.m. visitors are invited to visit an authentic Revolutionary War Encampment and “Let Freedom Ring” Bell ringing ceremony. 

Learn about the life of soldiers during the American Revolution. Reenactors from the Sable Soldiers of the American Revolution will bring to life soldiers from theMarbleheaders and the 1st Rhode Island Regiment of Foot. 

They will create a historical encampment filled with Revolutionary War artifacts and props. Telling the stories of the impact these soldiers made on the Revolution, as well as tales of important historical figures will be woven into demonstrations of military drills, weapons of the period, and an interactive live firing of a cannon.

At 1:30 pm. join the Norwalk Historical Society and the nation, as we toll the Town House bell 13 times to commemorate the founding of the original 13 colonies. Selected sections of the Declaration of Independence will be read by Norwalk’s Town Clerk, Rick McQuaid. Mayor Harry Rilling, Senator Bob Duff , as well as other local dignitaries, will take part in this wonderful patriotic ceremony!