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.

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