Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, MassachusettsPlimoth Plantation's
Wampanoag Indigenous Program (WIP) is proud to announce that a mishoon
(a traditional Native American canoe) has recently been accepted
into the collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the
American Indian, one of 19 museums, research centers and zoos that
comprise the Smithsonian Institution.
The mishoon was created on the Wampanoag Homesite at Plimoth
Plantation this spring. The boatas well as a companion documentary
produced by Plymouth Access Cable Televisionwill be brought
to the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington,
D.C. on September 6, 2013.
the 17th century, the mishoon was the most common boat in North
American waters. Darius Coombs, Associate Director of the Wampanoag
Indigenous Program, reached out to the Smithsonian and offered to
donate a mishoon to the museum's collection in Washington, D.C.
Work began on the mishoon in the spring of this year. The completed
canoe is 16 feet long and can fit up to 3 people.
"As a museum dedicated to the history and culture of Native
American communities, we're delighted to welcome a creation like
this one that represents a living tradition among the Wampanoag,"
says Kevin Gover (Pawnee) Director, National Museum of the American
WIP has close to 40 years of experience in creating mishoons
at Plimoth Plantation. During the process for this particular mishoon,
they received input from local Mashpee residents Earl Mills, Jr.
and Ramona Peters. These two prominent Wampanoag figures also contributed
interviews for the documentary. Currently, the mishoon is on display
in the Eel River next to Plimoth Plantation's Wampanoag Homesite.
It will leave Plymouth for Washington, D.C. the morning of September
5, along with paddles for the mishoon created by WIP. Members of
WIP will present the mishoon in a special gift ceremony at the museum's
Cultural Resources Center, located in Suitland, Maryland on September
"It's an honor that the Smithsonian will accept it, and we enjoy
doing new workit keeps the job challenging," Coombs said.
"It has been a fun and educational experience. The mishoon is an
invaluable piece that will add depth to the Smithsonian's already
rich representation of Northeast Native life."
the tree is the first step in creating a mishoon. With the help
of Gurney's Lumber Yard in Freetown, Massachusetts, WIP selected
a white pine. The tree was burned down by wrapping clay around the
trunk and burning the roots. It was then brought to Plimoth Plantation's
Wampanoag Homesite, where the log was worked with fire. By burning
into the widest point of the tree a natural keel is created, where
the bottom of the boat is thicker than its sides. Historically,
mishoons were burned 24 hours a day, since the longer the fire was
maintained the hotter it would get. Typically, it would take about
ten to twelve days for mishoons to be created in the 17th century.
Although this seems like a long time, trees during this period were
typically over 150 feet tall and 6 feet wide, capable of creating
mishoons that could easily fit 40 men.
Plimoth Plantation is one of 177 Smithsonian-affiliated museums
throughout the United States. The Affiliations program develops
collaborative partnerships with community organizations and provides
broad access to the Smithsonian's collections, scholarship and exhibitions.
"We have learned a great deal through our partnership with Plimoth
Plantation," said Harold A. Closter, Director of Smithsonian Affiliations.
"The gift of this invaluable artifact will add depth to our collections
and help us expand our educational offerings."Celebrating its 40th
anniversary, the Wampanoag Indigenous Program at Plimoth Plantation
is based at the Wampanoag Homesite, where Native men and women work
as interpreters and wear traditional clothing. Guests visiting the
Homesite can learn about Wampanoag history and culture from the
17th century through today.
Plimoth Plantation is a 17th-century living history museum dedicated
to telling the history of Plymouth Colony from the perspective of
both the Pilgrims and the Native Wampanoag. Located less than an
hour's drive south of Boston in Plymouth, Massachusetts (Exit 4,
Route 3 south) and 15 minutes north of Cape Cod, the Museum is open
daily from 9 am to 5 pm, 7 days a week, from March 16 through December
1, 2013. Plimoth Plantation is a private, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit
educational institution supported by admission fees, contributions,
memberships and revenue from a variety of educational programs/dining/special
events and Museum Shops. Plimoth Plantation is a Smithsonian Institution
Affiliate and receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council,
private foundations, corporations and local businesses.
the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian
Established in 1989 through an Act of Congress, the National Museum
of the American Indian is an institution of living cultures dedicated
to advancing knowledge of the life, languages, literature, history
and arts of contemporary Native people of North and South America.
NMAI includes its building on the National Mall; the George Gustav
Heye Center, a permanent museum in lower Manhattan; and the Cultural
Resources Center, a research and collections facility in Suitland,