connecticut's native american heritage - Leisure Group Travel

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connecticut's native american heritage - Leisure Group Travel

on location: northeast ❖ randy minkCONNECTICUT’SNATIVE AMERICANHERITAGEGroup itineraries can combinemuseum fare with gaming actionNative culture comes alive at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum.Foxwoods, a tribe-owned mega-resort, comprises six casinos.Background Image Courtesy of © 2011 JupiterImages CorporationWhile buffalo hunts on wide-open prairiesdon’t figure into the historical fabric ofNew England, the region abounds withmore Indian lore than one might think. Everyone hasheard of the Apaches, Navajos and Sioux, but how manyof us could name a single New England tribe? Untilcasino gambling came to Connecticut in the early 1990s,most folks were barely aware of the Native Americanpresence in the northeastern corner of the country,though they probably remembered learning about howthe Indians helped the Pilgrims.Surprisingly, one of America’s best Native Americanmuseums lies tucked amid wooded hills and marshlandseight miles north of Mystic, Conn. The MashantucketPequot Museum and Research Center chronicles theMashantucket Pequot tribe, an Eastern Woodland people,from prehistoric times to ownership of a megacasinoon the reservation near Ledyard. State-of-the-artexhibits feature interactive computer stations and videos,plus dazzling dioramas of a 16th century Pequot villagecomplete with life-size figures, wigwams and everydayscents and sounds.Groups should not miss The Witness, a movie that describesin dramatic detail how the tribe was all but decimatedin the 1636-1638 Pequot War, which included themassacre of a village near the Mystic River by Englishcolonists and their Native American allies. The defeatedPequots were forced into slavery among the Moheganand Narragansett tribes or shipped off to foreign territories.They were stripped of their land, culture and language,and could not even call themselves Pequots. Theburning of the village is seen through the eyes of an elderlyPequot, who, as a boy, survived the slaughter andurges his grandson to keep the story alive. Ancestors ofthe displaced Pequots began returning to Connecticut inLeisureGroupTravel.com February 2011 43


Open Wednesday through Saturday,10 am–4 pm, last admission at 3 pm.110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, CT 06338www.pequotmuseum.orgon location: northeast ❖the 1970s and bought back theirlands. An act of Congress in1983 recognized the tribe as anIndian nation.An audio tour of the indoor,walk-through Pequot village,which has no fences or barriers,describes everyday experienceslike fishing, weaving, tanninghides and harvesting corn.Outdoors, a recreated Pequotfarmstead, with a garden and orchard,is built over the recentlyexcavated remnants of an 18thcentury farm. The museum’sstone-and-glass tower offerspanoramic views of the area.Other exhibits focus on thetribe’s struggle for federal recognitionand the beginning in1986 of a high-stakes bingo operationthat led six years later toFoxwoods Resort Casino. TheYour Journey Begins18,000 Years AgoAT THE MASHANTUCKET PEQUOT MUSEUMThe world’s largest, award-winningNative American museum, located inbeautiful southeastern Connecticut.• Life-size 16th c. Pequot village• 4 acres of interactive exhibits• Guided tours• Educational programs andcraft workshops• 18-story observation tower• Gift shop, restaurant, librariesGroup rates, call Kathyat (860) 396-6839Obtain Connecticutvisitor guidesand itineraries –and contact groupfriendlysuppliersdirectly – atleisuregrouptravel.com/instant-infosprawling Foxwoods complex, the nation’slargest gambling operation, actuallycomprises six casinos with morethan 6,200 slot machines and 380 tablegames, plus five hotels, 30 restaurants, aworld-class spa, an ice skating rink, golfcourse and theaters that attract thebiggest names in entertainment. HighRollers, a 20-lane bowling alley that accommodates1,000 people, features twobars, four pool tables and more than 60big-screen televisions.In Uncasville, west of Ledyard, theMohegan Indians operate MoheganSun, a grand gaming center created in1996 that has grown to three casinos—Casino of the Earth, Casino of the Skyand Casino of the Wind. The 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena, the largestof three entertainment venues, hostsboxing and wrestling matches, concertswith headliners like Elton John andWNBA basketball action featuring thetribe-owned Connecticut Sun.The Native American heritage trailalso passes through a mountainous partof Western Connecticut. In Washington,the Institute for American IndianStudies has indoor exhibits on nativepeoples in Connecticut and throughoutNorth America, plus an outdoor AlgonkianIndian village replica, simulatedarchaeological site, nature trailsand gardens.Better known for its Yankee traditions,Connecticut abounds with a surprisingnumber of Native sites thatshed light on an overlooked thread inthis small state’s cultural makeup. LGTONLINE EXCLUSIVERead Randy Mink’s article onMystic Aquarium, one of Connecticut’stop group attractions. Log on tohttp://leisuregrouptravel.com/p?=22141.44 February 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

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