My humanities moment occurred while visiting the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Connecticut.
This was my second to visit to this amazing museum and research center. I had stumbled upon it about 10 years ago when studying at Brown University in Rhode Island. A National Park tour guide at another site had seen my interest in Native American studies and had asked me if I had ever visited the Pequot Museum. I told him this was my first visit up to New England and had not heard of the museum. I had an extra empty day in my schedule, so headed out towards Connecticut to visit the museum. I remember being struck by the point of view of the events displayed in the museum and realized quickly that I would need to return for a much longer visit.
This summer, I decided to take my family to visit this museum. My family consists of 3 young boys (ages 10 years to 2 years). I wanted them to see the point of view of the Native Americans from a young age. My boys were very engrossed in the exhibits! It is always eye opening to see historical events from a young child’s eyes. The museum is organized by historical time period where you take a self-guided tour starting with the Ice Age and going through modern times. My boys were fascinated by the hunter and gatherer exhibits and then by the Pequot Wars. They asked tons of questions and we spent a lot more time in the exhibits than I thought they would. Even my 2 year old stayed engaged throughout our entire visit. One thing my family and I loved about the museum is that their cafe serves food from that culture. By eating a delicious lunch, we learned about the native foods and plants of the area.
Personally, what really struck me about my first visit was the Pequot War. The movie is extraordinary and a ‘must see.’ So for my second visit, even though the sign said not to take small children in to the theater because of the content, I did take my children in and they were awestruck by the events. My second son is autistic and I worried about him watching the video with his sensory issues, but he is the one that probably took away the most from the video and asked me many in-depth questions afterwards.
What struck me the most about my second visit was a short video about the Wampum beads that were used as currency and as jewelry. The display after the video really showed the usage of these beads and I was struck that they worked with this delicate material by hand. It truly shows the focus and skills of the Pequot culture.