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Tribal Artisans Unveil Wigwam at Berkshire Museum

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In an intimate ceremonial gathering Tuesday, two Wampanoag tribesman dedicated a newly constructed wigwam to be hosted by the Berkshire Museum throughout the summer.

David Weeden and Daryl Wixon, owner operators of Wetu Makers and members of the Algonquian-speaking Wampanoag Nation, invited a group of about a dozen people into the handcrafted structure, which measures about 12 foot in diameter and 10 foot high. Huddled within, each was purified in sage smoke and given a small portion of tobacco to bury in the center as part of a ritual intended to bless the structure and dedicate it to its purpose.

The traditional native dwelling was erected "as a way to engage the community in advance of our summer exhibition, 'Rethink!'" according to co-curator and museum Director of Interpretation Maria Mingalone. 

"Rethink! American Indian Art," which debuts in July, will combine works of contemporary art with historic art objects from the museum's own collection, including local relics acquired over a century ago by its founder, Zenas Crane — some of which have never been displayed.

Wixon, the son of the late Wampanoag Nation Chief Red Blanket, thanked the musem and its director, Van Shields, for opening itself to this display of one of his culture's traditional practices, before he and Weeden closed the dedication with a short ceremonial chant.

The wigwam will be an integral part of the museum's annual Native American summer youth camps and programs. An opening reception for the "Rethink" exhibit will be held on Thursday, July 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. A family day of programs and activities will be held Saturday, July 14, from 10 to 5.

Tags: American Indian,   Berkshire Museum,   Native American,   wigwam,   

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