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.” Read the rest of this entry »

Community Resource Supports Native American and Indigenous Studies

Discussion Series Builds Community to Support Native American and Indigenous Studies

Offered through UMass, the weekly Community Connect discussion series provides adults and teens with an opportunity to explore Native American and Indigenous studies and build community to support further learning surrounding such topics. Such topics include Halloween and building awareness of cultural sensitivity.

Through a new community-building discussion series, adults and teens can learn about and engage in critical discussion of Native American and Indigenous issues. Offered through UMass’ Certificate Program in Native American and Indigenous Studies (CPNAIS), the Community Connect discussion series is an ongoing weekly forum intended to help build community amongst those with knowledge and experience surrounding the topic and those who seek deeper understanding of Native American and Indigenous issues.

Still in its early stages, the CPNAIS Community Connect series offers serves as a space for educating, listening, and creating, wherein participants can learn about Native American and Indigenous history and culture, as well as local resources that can be used to support and deepen their understanding. While a focus topic is sometimes identified for meetings, Community Connect conversations are meant to be open, allowing the series to take shape based on the interests and needs of participants. Topics explored in past meetings have included cultural appropriation and Halloween costumes and Native American and Indigenous history and culture in education.  Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating First Nations People this Weekend in Western MA

Native American Pow Wow this Weekend
in Lanesborough, MA

Modern pow wows invite both Native and non-Native American people together to honor American Indian culture and history. Authentic dancing, drumming and tribal regalia will be presented at the 7th Annual Rock, Rattle & Drum Pow Wow this weekend in Lanesborough, MA.

Celebrate Native American culture in the Berkshires this weekend at the 7th Annual Rock, Rattle and Drum Pow Wow! The celebration takes place on August 11th and 12th at Wirtes Farm, located at the base of Mt. Greylock in Lanesborough, and will feature music, dance, food, art, crafts, storytelling, and more from Native Americans throughout the northeast. Sample traditional foods like Indian fry bread, buffalo and  corn soup while watching a drum circle, or peruse a wide variety of Native American arts and crafts, such as native bead and quill work.

Pow Wows are celebrations that bring our First Nations People together to honor their traditional culture and history while connecting with their larger community.  The Rock, Rattle and Drum Pow Wow is open to both native and non-native families. Learning opportunities will be plentiful at the Pow Wow – children of all ages will be able to learn firsthand about Native American culture, and can supplement studies of local history, American history, and the natural history of New England!

The event even includes an intertribal group dance that non-natives are invited to join in on – learn the dance as a family, and come away having had a meaningful cultural learning experience. Special guests at the Pow Wow include Grammy award winner Joseph FireCrow and”Lod of the Strings” Arvel Bird. For more information, visit or call 413-443-2481. Rain location:  Mt. Greylock High School (Route 7) Williamstown, MA. ($)

[Photo credit: (ccl) Andrew Brannan]

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