GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — An organization known for preserving exceptional Berkshires — and beyond — destinations is taking steps toward preserving and honoring the history of indigenous peoples in the county.
On Thursday, The Trustees of Reservations announced that it has officially changed the names of its two Monument Mountain trails as a result of working with indigenous descendants of the Mohican Tribe who first settled in the Southern Berkshires nearly 300 years ago.
"We have worked for a long time with them, and have a relationship going pretty far back," Director of Southern Berkshires Properties Brian Cruey said in regard to the collaboration. "They're making sure that what we are saying is accurate, having language approved when we put in materials and also working on giving some of the objects we do have on our collection back to the tribe."
The former Indian Monument Trail has been renamed "Mohican Monument Trail" and Squaw Peak is now called "Peeskawso Peak," which means virtuous woman in the Mohican language. The name changes were carefully deliberated and approved by the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohicans.
"Being able to rename these areas in our homelands is a great honor but also an opportunity to take back our history and to right a wrong," Director of Cultural Affairs for the Stockbridge Munsee Community Heather Bruegl said in a press release. "By removing offensive language, it gives us an opportunity to correct the historical narrative."
Today, the Mohicans continue as a federally recognized Native American nation called the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. They have roughly 1,500 enrolled members and are based on a reservation in northern Wisconsin.
The group has been collaborating with The Trustees for more than a year in general acknowledgment that the term "Indian" is considered offensive, and "squaw" is an ethnic and sexist slur.
Cruey said the organization is "immeasurably grateful" to the Stockbridge-Munsee Community for helping them re-evaluate the language and historical perspective at Monument Mountain, adding that making properties more inclusive and accessible is at the heart of The Trustees' mission.
Physical changes on the trails will be happening throughout this month and will include the installation of new trail signs with additional interpretation and adding informational postings that detail the site's historical significance for indigenous peoples and explain why they are renamed.
Stockbridge-Munsee leaders suggested rewriting the narrative of Mountain Mountain to focus on the history of the Mohicans instead of filtering everything through the lens of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville's well-known picnic on the mountain in 1850.
Cruey said they aim to have everything completed when the season kicks off on May 1.
"We're working on more interpretation there that says even 'what you're seeing here is not really an accurate representation of what this place was, and this is what that is, this is why this place is really so important,'" he added.
Several years ago, the Trustees also reframed the interpretation of The Mission House's history to emphasize indigenous peoples rather than white colonists. This Stockbridge site was turned into a museum and recognized as a National Historic Landmark, but the integral narrative is of the Mohicans.
"It is really important to the history of the tribe here in Stockbridge," Cruey said. "[The Mission House] is one of the few remaining structures that remain from that time period."
The house built in 1742 tells the story of the Mohicans and missionary John Sergeant, who established a religious mission among them. At the suggestion of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans, the Mission House now displays narratives written by tribal members detailing their history and deflecting the glorification of white colonization.
The Trustees also formed an internal committee and developed a review process to examine property names and tributes through a set of mission-aligned criteria across their 120 properties as part of their DBIE (Diversity, Belonging, Inclusion, Equity) ethics.
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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Police Department said goodbye to a four-legged member of the force this week and plans to continue his legacy.
K-9 Titan, the partner of Officer Tim Ullrich, was euthanized on Wednesday because an untreatable mass discovered on his chest.
"It is with profound sadness that the Great Barrington Police Department announces the untimely passing of K9 officer Titan," the department wrote in a Facebook post. "A few days ago K-9 Titan fell ill and a mass was discovered in his chest. It was determined to not be treatable and the difficult decision was made to end his suffering. K-9 Titan faithfully served his partner, Officer Ullrich, the GBPD, and his community since 2017."
Since Titan lived at home with Ullrich and his family when he was off duty, Ullrich said they spent most of their time together and reflected fondly on their "tight bond."
Last week, the organization announced plans for Festival 2021, an $8 million Ted Shawn Theatre renovation, an intent to rebuild the Doris Duke Theatre, and a "Dance We Must" campaign to fund the completion of a five-year plan.
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Bard College at Simon's Rock was on lockdown Thursday after an anonymous bomb threat was emailed to the campus.
The all-clear was given at 1:30 p.m. after the grounds were searched by local first responders and the state police bomb squad.
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