Working Together in Nipmuc Country in 2011

Before I start this post, let me say straight out. There is no nefarious plot to combine the bands, change the spelling of Nipmuc Nation, or overthrow the current administration. OK?

That being said, we accomplished alot in the working together column.

  • In April, the Natick Nipmuc Band presented at the Nipmuc Nation tribal office “‎2010 Deer Island Memorial Sacred Run & Paddle: Nipmuc Perspectives on the Sacred Journey.”
  • The Second Annual Joint Strawberry Moon between Nipmuc Nation and Chaubunagungamaug Band of Nipmuck Indians was held at the Nipmuc Nation Tribal Office in June.
  • Chaubunagungamaug Band members assisted during the 58th Hassanamisco Indian Fair in July on the Reservation.
  • Members of the Natick Nipmuc Band and the Chaubunagungamaug Band as well as many other Nipmuks were in attendance at the Fair.
  • The first Nipmuk meeting was held in August at Westville Lake in Sturbridge. The Nipmuk meetings are intended to promote cooperation between band members and those Nipmuks not enrolled in a band in the hope of building our futures together.
  • Members of the Nipmuc Nation assisted at the Chaubunagungamaug Band’s September Pau Wau at Holland Pond.
  • The September Pau Wau was well attended by Natick Nipmucs, Hassanamiscos and other Nipmuks. Honestly, one of the best pau waus I’ve ever attended.
  • Natick Nipmuc Youth leader actively led Hassanamisco youth on paddles, to conferences, summer camp and other activities.
  • The three Nipmuk bands joined forces on a state-government issue.
  • Natick Nipmucs and Hassanamisco Nipmucs jointly attended the first Youth Paddle at Lake Quiusigamond.
  • Nipmuks from everywhere attended or assisted at the Natick Nipmuc 2011 Deer Island Memorial.
  • The first (in many years) Nipmuc Spiritual Gathering was held on the reservation over two days in November. Nipmuks from everywhere actively participated.
  • Members of Natick Nipmuc and Nipmuc Nation jointly presented Nipmuk history in Littleton, MA.
  • All Nipmuks freely attended the various socials hosted by Hassanamisco and Chaubunagungamaug including Strawberry Moon, Nikkomo, and Harvest Moon.

So this is a beginning.

Hassanamisco Reservation on the National Register of Historic Places!

On September 6, 2011, the National Register of Historic Places added the Hassanamisco Reservation to its list of national treasures. Known as Hassanamesit, the under 4 acre reservation serves as the cultural and spiritual center of the Nipmuc Nation, a state-recognized tribe in Massachusetts. Located on the reservation is the Cisco Homestead, which for two centuries served as home to Nipmuc tribal leaders and now houses the Hassanamisco Indian Museum.

Nipmucs occupied Hassanamesit since before recorded time. In the mid 1600s, missionary John Eliot established a “Praying Plantation or Town” in Hassanamesit in an effort to “Christianize” the native population. Metacom’s Rebellion (June 1675 – August 1676) brought an end to the praying town era, and in 1728, English settlers divided Hassanamesit into lots reserving some parcels for the Nipmuc families still living there.

Hassanamesit Allotments - 1728

 The current reservation is all that remains of the Moses Printer allotment. A wood frame house was built in 1801 for Moses’ great-granddaughter, Lucy Gimby. Lucy’s granddaughter, Sarah Arnold Cisco, became the Nipmuc tribal leader in the mid 1850s and the house became known as the Cisco Homestead. In 1962, it became the Hassanamisco Indian Museum although the family still occupied the addition in the back of the building. The last member of the Cisco family to occupy the Homestead was Shelleigh Wilcox who moved from the reservation in 2006.

Cisco Homestead

Dr. D. Rae Gould, the Nipmuc Nation’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO), led the effort to place the reservation on the list. “This good news will increase funding opportunities for our efforts to raise approximately $300,000 for the preservation of the Homestead.” The reservation is designated as a Traditional Cultural Property “associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our (Nation’s) history.” Funding to aid in the nomination process was provided by Preservation Massachusetts.

Hassanamesit has meaning for all Nipmucs as it is the only land in Massachusetts that has never been occupied by non-Natives. And the Homestead is the oldest structure in southern New England to be continuously occupied by Native people. Natick Nipmuc Sachem, Mary Anne Hendricks commented “The Hassanamisco Reservation is not only a sacred place to Nipmuks but has been finally recognized as a place in history for all to appreciate.”

Thanks to all who assisted and supported this journey, in particular Chief Natachaman of the Nipmuc Nation and the Hassanamisco Band of Nipmuc Indians.

Many thanks and an abundance of gratitude to our ancestors who kept this land intact for our generations and those to come.

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.

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