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Multi-Sensory “Cranberry Festival” Complements Traveling Exhibit Themes

Cranberry-Festival-logoAn exhibit traveling to leading Children’s Museums across the country introduces families and school children to five indigenous Native American communities from New England. The exhibit’s arrival at Long Island Children’s Museum enables LICM staff to connect content with local Shinnecock culture and history during a weekend long, multi-sensory “Cranberry Festival” on November 15-16 from noon to 4 p.m.. The Cranberry Festival is made possible with the support of the New York Council for the Humanities.

Visitors to the “Native Voices” exhibit learn that many Native American cultures have celebrations that are unique to their own tribe or nation. The Aquinnah Wampanoag in Martha’s Vineyard, MA, for instance, celebrate an occasion called Cranberry Day, representing the ripening of the last wild cranberry of the year; one of many thanksgiving celebrations the Wampanoag celebrate throughout the year.

“We’re excited for our visitors to learn about thriving Native American communities that are balancing cultural traditions with life in the modern world in the ‘Native Voices’ exhibit,” explains LICM President Suzanne LeBlanc. “The ‘Cranberry Festival’ will allow LICM to extend that circle of knowledge to local Native American communities; allowing visitors to learn how this seasonal fruit connects the Shinnecock of Long Island with the Aquinnah Wampanoag of Massachusetts.”

Many Long Islanders will be surprised to learn that Suffolk County was once the third largest producer of cranberries in the United States. This ready availability made the wild berry a popular ingredient in Shinnecock recipes and as a fabric dye and herbal remedy. A hurricane in 1938 resulted in changes to salination levels impacting crop growth.

During the weekend, “Cranberry Festival” attendees will have a chance to taste Shinnecock cranberry treats and talk with Josephine Smith, Coordinator of Shinnecock Nation Cultural Enrichment Center, about cultural traditions associated with harvest thanksgiving celebrations.

Additional activities during the weekend will allow families to see and touch cranberry plants in a bog-like environment, decorate fabric with cranberry dye, make clay pinch pots and learn the science behind the “bounceberry” nickname given to cranberries.

The LICM Theater will play host to Native American musician Dennis Yerry, to share traditional songs and stories. Yerry will play the Native American flute and drum at performances at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day. Tickets for the Theater performance are priced at $5 ($4 for museum members); all other activities during the Festival weekend are free with museum admission.

The Festival will take place during Native American Heritage Month. The commemorative month celebrates the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native American communities. “Hosting this exhibit and the Cranberry Festival at this time of year, allows us to introduce visitors to authentic contemporary views of Native Americans and move beyond the traditional tales and images of “the people who met the Pilgrims,” notes LeBlanc.