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Friday, June 28, 2013 THE JEWISH PRESS  Page 29

Summer – Where To Go  What To Do A Must-See Native American Museum By Ben G. Frank Coincidence? Of course. But the Connecticut publisher of my book The Scattered Tribe is known as Globe Pequot Press, and while I had heard that the Pequot were a Native American tribe in Connecticut, I never knew about a fascinating and informative museum there called the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. Tribally owned and operated since it opened in 1998, the museum – only an hour and a half from New York City – brings to life the story of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and serves as a major resource on the histories and cultures of Native Americans in the northeast and on the region’s rich natural history. Each year, about 50,000 people visit the muse-

um, located in the town/reservation of Mashantucket which is near Mystic and Stonington, Conn., and which contains, on the reservation, Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods. What is fascinating about this museum – the largest Native American museum in the world – is that it is a 308,000-square-feet facility replete with galleries upon galleries of exhibits, classrooms, as well as a 320-seat auditorium, all geared to one goal: “To deplete the stereotype of Native Americans created by movies, television and many books,” as one official of the Museum put it. A must-do and must-see at this facility is a walkthrough of a 16th century Pequot Village, recreated

indoors on a half-acre of space and featuring 50-lifesize figures, a dozen wigwams and a long house. Here, one observes Pequot dress, sounds of daily life of the village, the smells of the cooking, all geared to what existed in this beautiful region about 400 years ago. Architecturally, the complex is a gem. Two structural items attract immediate attention. Foremost, a huge glass and steel “Gathering Space” which serves as an arrival area. Then, a 185-ft stone and glass-tower, which provides visitors with sweeping views of the region. The building, we were told, “was designed to interact with its surrounding environment while maintaining the ecological integrity of the area.” The history of the Pequot Native Americans has relevance to the Jewish people, for as one museum employee said, “There are commonalities in the two communities. The Native American story is very similar to the Jewish story as both were displaced from their homelands.” Another museum official, Kimberly Shockley, director of public programs, stressed that the “Pequot War was the first attempt at genocide in America.” The war is Native Americans’ version of the Holocaust since large segments of the Pequot nation were decimated by the Europeans as well as by the diseases the latter carried, she noted. During the conflict between the Pequot tribe and English colonists and other Native American allies between 1634-1638, hundreds of Pequot were killed and wounded and hundreds sold into slavery. Others were dispersed. The Pequot had been crushed and were forced to sign the Treaty of Hartford declaring the Pequot nation dissolved. The result was the elimination of the Pequot – one of the most powerful groups in the region – as a viable polity in what is present-day Southern New England. It would take the Pequot more than three-and-a-half centuries to regain political and economic power in their traditional homeland along the Thames, Mystic and Pawcatuck rivers in southeastern Connecticut. The facility also includes two libraries, one specif-

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The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.

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Page 30 THE JEWISH PRESS  Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer – Where To Go  What To Do Acres Of Artifacts By Joseph Offenbacher Since the early 1870’s, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City has been one of the region’s most significant centers for tourism and education. Focusing on the scientific study of human cultures, the natural world and the universe, the museum’s diverse array of exhibits encompass both the terrestrial and the celestial. In addition to its exhibits, the museum is also a major research center for study of dozens of fields that range from anthropology to genomics. In the past decade, the museum has opened a full university program, with the ability to both support research and confer advanced academic degrees. One of the world’s largest museums, the AMNH includes roughly 50 permanent exhibits in its expansive Upper West Side complex. The site houses millions of specimens, of which only a small fraction can be on display at any given time. In addition to the exhibits, the museum also includes the state of the art Hayden Planetarium, an IMAX theatre and

an expansive research library. Conveniently located in the heart of Manhattan, the AMNH includes both new exhibits and many old favorites including the extensive dinosaur collection and the massive blue whale model on display. In addition, some of the museum’s world- class exhibits include the Rose Center for Earth and Space study, the Millstein Hall of Ocean Life, and the Hall of Human Origins. The Hall of Bio-diversity explores the expansive array of living organisms in modern ecosystems, while the fossil halls include some of the largest and most elaborate dinosaur exhibits anywhere in the world. The museum has a wide array of programming for both adults and children throughout the day, and even the opportunity to spend a night in the museum on select dates. One can explore the many exhibits with a guided tour, or spend the day traversing its halls and interactive exhibits alone or with your family. Age specific educational programs take place throughout the summer and are specifically geared towards meeting

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with museum admission and for museum members). Thursday, August 8 would be a good day to attend the Cultural Survival Bazaar, billed as a festival of indigenous arts and cultures from around the world, and featuring watch craft-making demonstrations and sales of ethnic clothing, jewelry, musical instruments, Hmong embroidery, crafts, rugs, and accessories. For more information, visit www. pequotmuseum.org or call 800-411-9671. Ben G. Frank, journalist, travel writer, is the author of the just-published “Klara’s Journey, A Novel” (Marion Street Press) and “The Scattered Tribe: Traveling the Diaspora from Cuba to India to Tahiti & Beyond” (Globe Pequot Press). He blogs at www.bengfrank. blogspot.com and can be found at Twitter @bengfrank.

Continued from p.29 ically for children, which together with archives and special collections house more than 40,000 volumes, documents, maps, rare books and other diverse materials on all Native peoples of the U.S. and Canada. And programs vary. On Monday, July 22, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., there will be a full-moon hike in the Pequot Homeland, limited to 30 participants, ages 10 and older ($15/$5 museum members). One program and event coming up in July highlights the museum’s ability to educate the past which never should be forgotten. On two Fridays, July 12 and August 2, from 1 o 2:30 p.m., a 40-minute program produced by the History Channel will be presented. (Free

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Friday, June 28, 2013 THE JEWISH PRESS  Page 31

Where To Go  What To Do The Bronx Zoo Adds Dinosaurs To Its Menagerie By Joseph Offenbacher

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Lions, tigers and dinosaurs? Wait, that’s not right. Actually, this summer at the Bronx Zoo, it is. On May 25, the zoo opened a two-acre, prehistoric safari, featuring twenty animatronic dinosaurs that are advertised to roar, snarl and even spit. As the city’s very own Jurassic Park, the new exhibit features animals that dominated the prehistoric earth from the Permian period, roughly 300 million years ago, to the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago. In addition to featuring well-known dinosaurs such as the apex predator, Tyrannosaurus Rex, the exhibit also includes lesser-known species that occupied unique niches in the ancient ecosystem. Ultimately, the main goal of the Dinosaur Safari is to demonstrate how similar adaptations supported the development of both prehistoric and modern species in the wild. Park curators went to great lengths to accurately recreate the unique ecosystems of these ancient periods by reproducing elements of the prehistoric landscape, in which both extinct and extant species of fauna and flora flourished. In addition to the new exhibit, the park remains one of the World’s largest urban zoos. With a fantastic array of animals, the grounds feature a diverse array of wildlife, ranging from mammals to insects. By reproducing many of the world’s most exotic ecosystems the park serves as both a tourist attraction and as

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a center for conservation for some of the most endangered species. As a result, the Bronx Zoo has placed a strong emphasis on education, imploring its visitors to learn about the wild life and to take a greater interest in contributing to conservation. The Bronx Zoo also features a robust program geared specifically towards children, complete with a 4-D theatre, a bug carousel, and even camel rides. The Children’s Zoo enables young visitors to directly interact with the animals. While many of the park’s habitats have garnered special recognition over the years, several of the exhibits, including the state-of-the-art tiger habitat, have become a must see for anyone spending the day at the zoo. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and until 5:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Times for special programs are available on the park’s website.

A babirusa family along the Bronx Zoo’s Wild Asia Monorail.


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