Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mohegan Presentation At Norwich Historical Society

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The following installment of The Tribe In The Media series is a Norwich Bulletin article on last night's presentation by Mohegans at the Norwich Historical Society.

Mohegans’ ties to Norwich celebrated
History of tribe, city intertwined for centuries
By Deborah Straszheim
Norwich Bulletin
Posted Mar 22, 2010

Norwich, Conn. — Eric Maynard wore his traditional Native American clothing Monday evening, and explained it to an audience gathered at Slater Auditorium.

It’s made of buckskin and it’s good for cool, damp weather, he said. The fringe on the leggings swishes the water away. His mother made the headdress with a strip of hide down the center, porcupine hairs — not quills — and turkey feathers on top.

“It’s a tradition that’s being passed down to me,” he said.

Maynard and Sandi Pineault, manager of the Mohegan Tribe Cultural & Community Programs, spoke about the tribe’s history to an audience of about 25 people at the annual meeting of the Norwich Historical Society.

“We thrive on diversity,” said Faith Davison, historical society board member. “And we’re celebrating, because Norwich is not just one class, race or religion.”

The Mohegan Indian Tribe has a 300-year-old relationship with the city, owns Mohegan Sun in Uncasville and employs many Norwich residents. This summer, Tribal Chairwoman Lynn Malerba, of Montville, will be installed as the tribe’s first female chief in nearly three centuries.

Audience members said they learned a few things Monday they didn’t know before.

“I wasn’t aware that women were involved so much,” said Marjorie Morris, of Groton. “They were in charge of land, was that it?”

Native Americans didn’t mark land with fences, but if there was such a thing as land ownership, women owned it, Pineault said. Women were caretakers of the land, as they gardened while men hunted.

Troy Shoemaker, a historical society board member, said he learned that much of the original tribal language was lost.

Tribal languages were outlawed in the 1800s, because people were fearful of what was being said, Pineault explained. The last fluent speaker of the Mohegan language didn’t teach it because she didn’t want to cause trouble for the children who learned it, Pineault said.