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.

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Celebrate Columbus? Nah! Let’s Celebrate “Indigenous Survival Day”!

Ok so every second Monday in October the same thing occurs. Columbus Day. Named for that intrepid sailor who refused to believe that the Americas were not Asia until his THIRD trip here. Every year there are parades and every year Native people and others (btw, “Thanks, Others!”) protest the celebration of a man who dedicated years of his life to the exploitation, torture and murder of the inhabitants of the islands just south of our border.

It should truly be named “Italian-American Day” because it was the Italian Knights of Columbus that got FDR in 1937 to make the day official. And I think that would have been swell. I’d gladly parade through the streets with the promise of pasta at the end to celebrate my fellow Americans. It’s probably too late for that though.

I can’t celebrate Columbus. Honestly, he was lost, he was greedy, he was deadly and he was afraid of Ferdinand and Isabella. Plus he didn’t actually discover America – we already lived here! He wasn’t even the first European to hang out on our coasts (remember the Vikings?). The only thing good that I can say about that entire episode is “Thank the Creator he didn’t land in Plymouth.”

“Indigenous Survival Day”. That just sorta rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? And a holiday like that would recognize the enduring strength of the Americas’ First Peoples. After all, we survived Columbus, the Puritans, Andrew Jackson, Vikings, smallpox-infected blankets, Manifest Destiny, allotments, the reservation system, and the Wild, Wild West.

We Are Still Here! Let’s celebrate that!

Upcoming Events in Nipmuc Country

April 27th, 6 to 8 pm

Nipmuc Nation Tribal Office

2010 DEER ISLAND MEMORIAL SACRED RUN & PADDLE:
NIPMUC PERSPECTIVES ON THE SACRED JOURNEY

Nipmuc Sacred Paddlers Pam Ellis, Cheryll Toney Holley, and Troy Phillips and Mashpee Wampanoag/Nipmuc Sacred Runner and Paddler Marcus Hendricks traced the complete land and water route of the forced removal of our ancestors from S. Natick to Deer Island in Boston Harbor in October 1675 through the Sacred Run & Paddle of the 2010 Deer Island Memorial last October. 1030101646
These Sacred Paddlers and Runner will show photographs of their journey that included mishoonash, our traditional dugout canoes and will discuss their experiences as part of this sacred journey. This was the first time in over 200 years that mishoonash traveled down the Charles River. The panel will also be joined by Robbie Thorpe, the youngest Sacred Paddler to complete the journey.

Pizza and soft drinks will be provided.
Please RSVP to speen1651@aol.com


May 21st, 1 to 4 pm

Hassanamesit Reservation

New Year and Planting Moon Celebration

Please bring a dish to share.


June 4th & 5th

Nipmuc Nation Tribal Office

Nipmuc Art Exhibit


June 11th, All day

Lancaster River Festival

Sponsored by Lancaster Friends of the Nashua River

Details to follow


July 31st, 10 am to 4 pm

Hassanamesit Reservation

58th Annual Indian Fair


August 13th, 12 pm until …

Westville Lake, Sturbridge, MA

2011 Vickers Reunion


September 19th, 12 pm to 4 pm

Hassanamesit Reservation

15th Annual Nipmuc Homecoming Celebration

Empowering Our Elders – Free Workshop on Healthcare Issues

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Free Informational Workshop

How to Detect, Protect and Report Healthcare Errors, Fraud and Abuse 

Healthcare errors cost billions of dollars annually. Become an educated healthcare consumer and protect yourself and your loved ones against Medicare fraud and deceptive marketing tactics.

Nipmuc Nation

Tribal Council Office

25 Main Street

Grafton, MA

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 

Consumer awareness and action safeguards Medicare and protects us and our loved ones. Join this growing movement of educated healthcare consumers. Your input is crucial!

For more details about this workshop or the MA SMP Program, please call

Terrie Drew, MA SMP Program
Outreach and Education Coordinator
800-892-0890 or 978-946-1243
tdrew@esmv.org 

Sponsored by Nipmuc Nation Tribal Council

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.

Autumnal Equinox

My last post on Facebook wished my friends a “Happy, happy Equinox”. One friend’s comment asked “What does that mean?” It’s now a few days past the equinox but here goes….

Very simply put, an equinox occurs when the center of the sun appears directly above the Earth’s equator. This happens twice yearly, in March and September. Some say that during an equinox the length of the day equals the length of the night. That’s not quite true, the equalization of day and night usually occurs a few days before the Spring Equinox and a few days after the Fall Equinox. After the Fall Equinox, the days become shorter until Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.                               blog_pics_003                                                   The moon on 9/23/2010

This year, the Autumnal Equinox coincided with a full moon, displaying in all its glory, a true Harvest Moon. This heavenly event happened last in 1991 and won’t again until 2029. In days past, the Fall Equinox signaled a time of harvest and preparation for winter. For others, it was and is a time of reflection, rest, and transition after the busy seasons of Spring and Summer.

Taubotne

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Unnai is the Nipmuc word for Truth.

Truth is what I hope you all will find in this blog (except when I’m writing fiction, of course).

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