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 »

Symbols & Rituals of Rosh Hashanah

Symbols & Rituals of Rosh Hashanah

From our archived column, “Not Your Grandparents’ Shtetl: Exploring Jewish Culture in Western MA,”  Amy Meltzer shares different symbols and rituals of Rosh Hashanah.  Also known as the Jewish New Year, or the first day of the traditional Jewish lunar calendar, this year Rosh Hashanah takes place sunset, September 13 – nightfall, September 15, 2015.


One of the themes of Rosh Hashanah is sweetness. (A traditional greeting is “May you have a good and sweet new year.”) Apples and challah (Jewish egg bread) dipped in honey symbolize that sweetness. Before Rosh Hashanah, we make a trip to a local apple orchard to collect several varieties of local apples. On the holiday we sample the apples, and sweet recipes made from the apples…

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Historical Culinary Incidents: Food History of the Pioneer Valley

Historical Culinary Incidents
Lecture Series at Wistariahurst Museum
Holyoke, MA

Come to Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke this fall for a great lecture series featuring local scholars and experts discussing various aspects of the food of the Pioneer Valley and its history.

There are many different entry points for thematically investigating history. In studying the traditional dress of various time periods, we learn about the activities likely done by people based on their style of dress. We read and study classic art and literature as a means of understanding the historical context in which it was written or created. Architecture, similarly, can be examined in order to understand the resources (both material and monetary) of people in a particular place at a particular time.

This fall, the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke hosts Historical Culinary Incidents, a lecture series that examines local history through the role of food in the Pioneer Valley. Held at 6pm on Monday evenings – beginning September 9th – each lecture will focus on a different aspect of the area’s edible history. By attending the events, families can learn together about the important role that food has played throughout the area’s history. Lecture topics will focus on everything from the food enjoyed by college students to former valley vineyards…

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