Connecticut Open House Day is an annual event scheduled the second Saturday of June, where cultural organizations and tourism attractions throughout the state open their doors to invite folks to discover – and rediscover Connecticut’s museums. One of the best ways to celebrate Open House Day is at the Institute of American Indian Studies located on 38 Curtis Road in Washington Connecticut. Best of all, on June 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. visitors will get in free!
If you want to learn about archeology and native cultures past and present, this is the place to visit. A special highlight of the Open House Day at the Institute will be the traditional flute music played by Allan Madahbee, an Ojibway artist, and musician. In Native American culture, the flute is deeply rooted in Eastern Woodland Indian traditions as well as in the culture of indigenous peoples of the Americas. The sound of the flute is hauntingly beautiful and unforgettable. The gift shop is also offering an interesting selection of these rare handmade flutes crafted by Madahbee.
The Collections at IAIS are divided into two categories, Ethnographic and Archaeological. Both categories of the collection are used for exhibition, research, and study.
The Ethnographic Collection contains over 6,000 cultural items and represents indigenous communities throughout the Western Hemisphere. Ethnographic items generally date to the near (Post-European contact) past. The objects were collected, purchased, bartered from or gifted by indigenous owners to others, and often passed down as heirlooms by indigenous and non-indigenous families. These objects represent the diverse history and continued presence of Native American societies, many of whom still dwell on the homelands of their ancestors and maintain their cultural traditions today.
The Archaeological collection features over 300,000 artifacts representing over 1,300 New England Native American archaeological sites. Archaeological items are mostly from below-ground archaeological sites. Some, however, were disturbed from their original location and brought to the surface either by natural causes or human activity. The vast majority of these are nonperishable items such as stone tools and clay pottery fragments. Most of the perishable materials used in the past are rarely found due to the acidic soils and temperate climate of the Northeast.
The archaeological collections in the care of the IAIS span over 12,000 years of indigenous history, including objects from the oldest known site in Connecticut: the Templeton site (6LF21) in Washington.
The IAIS holds overall the largest collection of artifacts from Western Connecticut anywhere in the state. This collection spans from the earliest known occupation to the colonial and Federalist periods of Euro-American history and holds enormous historical significance. The majority of the sites where these artifacts were retrieved have been destroyed by urban development, river erosion, sea level rise or other factors. The only remains of the culture and activities from these sites are the items in this collection.
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.