Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mashentucket Pequot Museum

My boys and I had been to the Mashentucket Pequot museum just one other time (you can read about that trip here) and it was just about 5 years ago.  I knew Evan, who was only 5 at the time, did not remember most of it and I have been wanting to get back there to visit.

We finally made plans to meet up with some friends of ours and explore the museum on Friday so that's just what we did.

The museum has lots of birch trees in front and a huge glass lookout tower.  The backside of the museum is a giant arc of glass windows as well.  It's beautiful and was designed to replicate the comings and going of an authentic pow wow.



Inside there are all sorts of recreated scenes.  This one shows the men, painted and prepared for war, rowing the women and children to safety.


Many of the materials used to build the museum were the ones that were actually excavated from the site during construction.  This rock wall and the following picture shows a bark wall were both made from the actual trees and rocks that they dug out of the ground during excavation.  The architects and workers worked closely with the chief and he felt strongly about using what was provided; as is their way.



After learning a bit about their tribe and their nation we moved through the ice age tunnel and traveled back in time.  We learned about Native American creation stories, the movement of the glaciers, and animals that have long gone extinct.


This case shows the head of a giant beaver versus the beavers we have around today.  


A scene depicting how the Native Americans would work together to hunt caribou.



A replica of a village.


The different types of corn/maize that were grown.


The best part of this museum, according to my boys, was the replica of the village inside.  There are many scenes depicting village life with full size huts, tools, and statues.  Near each scene is a number and we were given listening devices that we could punch the numbers into and learn all about the daily life of the pequots.


Standing guard over the crops and scaring away animals that might eat them.

We learned about what life was like for the children of the tribe and that dogs were the only domesticated animals

Inside the chief's hut




They had a small room with signs explaining how so many local places were named for the Mashentucket Pequot name and this interactive computer taught the kids how to say a few basic words in various Native American languages.


As we let the village we were approaching the time of the European settlers coming to establish fur trades and we learned about the production and importance of wampum; Ian beads made from quahog shells.


With the European traders the natives began warring with one another (sometimes with the aid of traders) and many of the tribes dwindled in numbers.  These wars combined with widespread illnesses like smallpox depleted much of the tribes.  


The next area of the museum went into how the state tried to sell off most of the Pequot lands and pushed them onto reservations.  With the loss of land many decided to move off the reservation to find work and support their families.  Those that stayed turned to homesteading.


Alec toured the homestead garden but it was not warm enough for me to go out.
 There is a portrait gallery  with photos of the Pequots of today and the future.


We watched a video on how the Mashentucket Pequot tribe regained their land.  They were in danger of losing what little land they had left because no one was living on it so a few moved back, in trailers, and began farming, making syrup, and trying to reclaim their heritage.


They ha 5 or 6 trailers like this one set around the reservation and they sued the state for taking away reservation land that should have been protected under federal regulations.  We watched another video about how and why they sought out help from congress and reclaimed their land. 


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12 comments :

  1. Such an awesome place. I love recreated scenes, they just make it come to life!

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    1. They really do! My kids loved the little flip phones to listen in on what a typical day would be like too. There were lots of buttons and lights to play with along the way too.

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  2. So interesting! I took my kids to a Native American museum in SC that was pretty small, but they enjoyed it. I'm sure they would like this one even more.

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  3. I have so much interest in Native American history! I would love to visit somewhere like this. #Explorerkids

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    1. I really do too. I find the older I get the more history fascinates me.

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  4. Looks like a load of fun and so informative too! I'd love to know more about native America! The Willow Tree (posting from Google account thats in an old name) #ExplorerKids

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    1. It was lots of fun and we learned so much.

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  5. I think I say this every time I comment on your blog but: My kids would love this! Learning history from museums is so much more fun and interesting. :)
    ~Jess
    #ExplorerKids

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    1. It really is a great way to learn about history and definitely seems to have more lasting impact than just reading about it.

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  6. What a fantastic museum! I want to go there too someday :)

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