Nikkomo – December 17, 2011

NIKKOMO CELEBRATION

Nikkomo is celebrated by many NE Woodland tribes. It is the first winter moon and is a time of giving what the Creator made possible through the harvest.

Come and celebrate this season with Nipmucs and others on December 17th at the Nipmuc Nation Tribal Office.

Aquene

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Cisco Homestead Restoration is Underway!

By – D. Rae Gould, Ph.D, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Nipmuc Nation

This fall the restoration of the Cisco Homestead on the Hassanamisco Reservation in Grafton began. This work has been made possible through a generous Community Preservation grant through the Town of Grafton CPC (Community Preservation Commission) and state Community Preservation Act funds.

The current work is a first-phase stabilization of the building that included installation of a new roof and gutters, stabilizing interior floor components, securing the building from entry by animals, replacing a bulkhead, and re-grading of land around the building to improve drainage. The most visible and perhaps significant transition to the Homestead has been the removal of the front porch, which returns the building to its c. 1900 appearance. The stabilization phase was completed in early November.

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ABOVE: The Cisco Homestead as it appeared around the end of the 19th century (or c. 1900), and

BELOW: The Homestead as it appears today undergoing restoration to its appearance during this time period. Photo credit: Margaret Haynes.

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In addition, this fall a completed nomination to have the Hassanamisco Reservation and Cisco Homestead placed on the National Register of Historic Places is being submitted to the Massachusetts Historical Commission (for final submission to the National Register). The completion of the nomination was made possible through grant funding provided by Preservation Massachusetts (http://preservationmass.org/).

In 2009, the Cisco Homestead was added to the list of Massachusetts’ Most Endangered Historic Resources, along with seven other sites, in an effort to increase awareness about the need to preserve and restore this important historic and cultural resource. The completion of the National Register nomination and the placement of this property on the State’s Register of Historic Places will enable the tribe to apply for other state and private funding to move forward with the more extensive restoration of the building. Overall the restoration is estimated to cost around $300,000. With the complete restoration of the homestead, the museum building will again be open for tours, indoor education programs, tribal functions, and will also house the tribal archive and museum collections, which are now in storage.

Anyone interested in assisting with the restoration activities or helping to raise funds through grant writing or contributions is welcome to contact Rae Gould at rgould@snet.net.

Sacred Paddle, October 30, 2010 (Part 1)

The Sacred Paddle was part of this year’s annual Deer Island Memorial. Organized by the Natick Nipmuc Council, each year there are activities to commemorate the forced removal of Native people from their homes to an internment camp on Deer Island. This happened on October 30, 1675 to the residents of the Natick Praying Plantation. Natives living in other English-style towns soon followed. All told, approximately 500 Christian Indians were incarcerated on the island without shelter and little supplies. Half of the prisoners perished on the island, their graves now marked by a sewage treatment plant.

The Sacred Paddle followed the route the Naticks took from Watertown (where they boarded boats for the harbor) to Deer Island. For the first time in perhaps a century or two,  three mishoonash, or dugouts, the traditional watercraft of the Nipmuc peoples, would travel down the Charles River and across Boston Harbor to Deer Island. A Penobscot War Canoe accompanied the mishoonash on the journey.

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Marcus Hendricks and Troy Philips (and part of Annawon Weeden) in one of the mishoonash on the Charles River.

I had a seat in the War Canoe. While I am certain that the fear I felt was nothing compared to my ancestors’ fears, I was pretty shaky. Once we were on the water, everything changed.