Traditional “Mishoon” Dugout Canoe to Travel Mystic River
August 7, 2015
This past spring, the Pequot Museum began the process of making a 36’ traditional dugout canoe—known as a “Mishoon”—with the guidance and skill of native Wampanoag canoe makers.
The Mishoon will make its maiden voyage this Saturday, August 8, as 12 New England tribal members embark on a 6-mile roundtrip paddle from the Mystic Seaport Museum to Noank and back. The blessing of the Mishoon takes place at 10:15 a.m., followed by the launch at 10:30.
Following the journey, the Pequot Museum will host an educational exhibition at the Seaport Marine boathouse and dock, including paddling demonstrations, Native American artists, drummers and a team of archaeologists and experts answering questions and highlighting the historical significance of the area.
The Mystic River connects 3 of the nation’s oldest Indian Reservations, from the headwaters near the Mashantucket Pequot and Eastern Pequot Reservations to the river’s mouth where the first Pequot reservation at Noank was located. The paddle will also acknowledge the 1637 “Mystic Massacre” on Pequot Hill, one of the most significant and controversial events in early American history. In subsequent centuries, as Indians lost rights to their lands, many turned to maritime labor. Mystic became an important place where many Native people went to find work on commercial and whaling vessels. The Mishoon paddle is meant to educate the public about these hidden histories and to demonstrate that rich cultural traditions in the region persist.
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