Native American Culture in the Berkshires

Experience Mohican Culture in the Berkshires

United States history is a story that intertwines many cultures and peoples. To fully understand U.S. history and American culture, you must first understanding the impact which Native Americans and European colonists had on each other. The best way to gain insight into any culture is to fully immerse yourself, not only by listening but also by engaging in meals, rituals, musical performances, dances and more. You’re invited to get a glimpse of modern day Mohican culture at the Native American Festival at Mount Greylock.

When Europeans first came to what is now the United States, the area was home to over 300 different languages. Now, due to past U.S. government policies which forced assimilation on Native Americans, only 175 of these languages remain, and many are endangered languages.

The last known fluent speaker of the Mohican language was a Stockbridge resident who died in 1933. As part of a wide movement towards preservation of Native American languages, some Mohican words have been recovered from old dictionaries, letters, books and other written texts. The word Mohican itself comes from the original, “Muhheakanneuw,” which has many translations related to the Hudson river along which this group once resided. One such translation reads: “the people of the waters that are never still.” An interesting difference between English and the Mohican language is that there is no gender distinction between third person pronouns in Mohican. “Pumisoo” is the word for both “he” or “she,” and could be roughly translated to: “that person.”

Families interested in discovering modern Mohican culture are invited to the Bascom Lodge at Mount Greylock State Reservation  on Saturday, May 28, 2016 for the Native American Festival. There will be a day-long festival with drumming and dancing. For an even more immersive experience, a limited number of guests are invited to eat and spend the night camping out in a teepee. Families can hear about the history of the Mohican people as they enjoy a traditionally inspired meal featuring braised rabbit, grilled salmon, watercress, apple, and dried cranberries. There will be an opportunity to relax around the fire and enjoy meditation drums, as well as a great view for stargazing.

Joseph Long Toe will recount creation stories such as the origins of the stars and legends of the Mohican people. Experience this fascinating culture through oral storytelling, food, music and dance. For reservations and details please call 917-680-0079. 30 Rockwell Road. Lanesborough, MA.

An alternative way of meeting and engaging with local members of the Mohican nation is by attending the Stockbridge Library Association’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 6:30pm. This meeting will feature representatives from the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Nation. Representatives will relay the story of Stockbridge, which was first founded as “Indian town” in the 1730s. For more information call 413-298-5501. 46 Main Street. Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

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