Outreach Programs

Outreach Programs

call the Education Department at (860)868-0518 ext. 103 to schedule an outreach program today!

Although nothing helps reinforce Eastern Woodland Native American concepts quite like a visit to the Institute for American Indian Studies, if your school is unable to make the trip, one of our Outreach Programs may be the next best thing! Have IAIS Educators come to your school or facility and bring the experience right to you, with authentic and replicated artifacts, traditional clothing and furs and visual materials to help students imagine what it was like to like in the Northeastern Woodlands. For groups larger than 30 students, please call for prices.

Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands- K thru 2nd Grades
In this program students will compare the lives of the Eastern Woodland Native American to life in the North East today. Students will examine images of the Eastern Woodlands and compare different artifacts in order to discuss group roles within a village. Through storytelling, students will discover how tradition and moral lessons were passed down through different generations in tribes.

1 hour
In-State: $200 for groups up to 30*
Out-Of-State: $225 for groups up to 30*
Mileage Rate: $0.54 per mile

* As of January 2017 fees will increase to $225 In-State for groups up to 30 and $250 Out-of-State for groups up to 30.

Native Life in the Woodlands of Connecticut - 3rd thru 5th Grades
In this program students are introduced to the lives of the Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands. Students will examine and discuss reproductions of artifacts in small groups. They will discuss how the environmental landscape of the North East shaped the Native Americans' daily lives and how they relied on what was around them to survive. Students will also have the opportunity to play a Native American game.

1 1/4 hour
In-State: $200 for groups up to 30*
Out-Of-State: $225 for groups up to 30*
Mileage Rate: $0.54 per mile

* As of January 2017 fees will increase to $225 In-State for groups up to 30 and $250 Out-of-State for groups up to 30.

European Impact on Native American Culture
Introduce your students to the concept of Indian Boarding Schools, forced assimilation, stereotypes and their lasting effect on current Federal/State recognition processes and tribal identity.

75 minutes
In-State: $200 for groups up to 30*
Out-Of-State: $235 for groups up to 30*
Mileage Rate: $0.54 per mile

* As of January 2017 fees will increase to $225 In-State for groups up to 30 and $250 Out-of-State for groups up to 30.


Archaeological/Historical Presentations
Recommended for High School through Adult levels
Illustrated presentation by noted archaeologist and IAIS' Director of Research and Collections, Dr. Lucianne Lavin. Choose from the following topics focusing on archaeology and/or an intriguing aspect of the history and culture of American Indians both past and present, or historic non-Native persons throughout Connecticut and New England.

Connecticut's Indigenous Communities: An Introduction

CT's indigenous communities have long, rich histories that extend back to when they shared Mother Earth with mastodons and other extinct animals. Ignored or themselves falsely labeled extinct by local 19th century town histories, the story of their evolution into complex tribal societies with sophisticated social and political traditions has remained largely untold. Though ravaged by European diseases, war, land losses, poverty, and discrimination, Native American peoples adapted to their constantly changing social landscapes through a series of survival strategies. Their communities remain a vibrant part of Connecticut life.

They Are Still Here: The Native Americans of Western Connecticut

CT's indigenous communities have long, rich histories that extend back thousands of years. Ignored or themselves falsely labeled extinct by some 19th century historians, their story is one of accommodation and adaptation to rapidly changing physical and social environments after contact with European traders and explorers. This presentation will describe the complex tribal societies and sophisticated socio-political traditions in Western CT just prior to contact, the initial Native American-European contact situation, the effect of European settlement, and the survival strategies Native leadership used to cope with the constantly changing social landscapes. Native American communities such as the Schaghticoke and Golden Hill Paugussett remain a vibrant part of Western Connecticut life today.

Native American Communities and Cultures in the Northwest Corner

The history, culture and traditions of the first settlers of the Northwest Corner will be the subject of Dr. Lucianne Lavin's illustrated PowerPoint presentation. Northwest Connecticut's indigenous communities have long, rich histories that extend back thousands of years. Ignored or themselves falsely labeled extinct by some 19th century historians, their story is one of accommodation and adaptation to rapidly changing physical and social environments after contact with European traders and explorers. This presentation will describe the complex tribal societies and sophisticated socio-political traditions in Northwestern CT just prior to contact, the initial Native American-European contact situation, the effect of European settlement, and the survival strategies Native leadership used to cope with the constantly changing social landscapes. Native American communities remain a vibrant part of Connecticut life today.

Summaries of the following presentations are similar to the above, except they will focus on the specific geographic regions noted in their titles:

Native American History of the Farmington River Valley

Connecticut's American Indian Coastal Communities, Then and Now

Native American Communities in the Lower Housatonic River Valley: Then & Now

Native American Communities and Cultures around Lake Waramaug

Lake Waramaug and its surrounding townships have been home to Native Americans for thousands of years. It was part of the ancient homelands of the Weantinock tribe. This PowerPoint presentation will show how Native Americans exploited Waramaug's bounteous resources continuously for over 10,000 years. Peoples of Weantinock descent still live in its surrounding townships to this day. Beaver Hats for Brass Kettles: Connecticut's Indian Communities in the Colonial Period CT's indigenous communities have long, rich histories that extend back thousands of years. This PowerPoint illustrated presentation will focus on the years 1633-1783, which began with the founding of the first European settlement in Connecticut and ended with the birth of the United States. It will show the various ways in which Native American lives were affected by European settlement, and how indigenous communities adapted to their constantly changing natural and social landscapes through a series of survival strategies. American Indian communities remain a vibrant part of Connecticut life today.

An Evening with the Author

Dr. Lucianne Lavin, director of research and collections at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Connecticut, will discuss her background in anthropology, archaeology and indigenous studies and her reasons for writing the book, Connecticut's Indigenous Peoples: What Archaeology, History and Oral Traditions tell us about their Communities and Cultures. During this PowerPoint presentation, she will also introduce the audience to the book's major tenets, which will be followed by a general question and answer period and book signing.

Native American Communities in Western Connecticut and the Traditional Roles of Indigenous Women

This Powerpoint Presentation will provide a short introduction to indigenous societies in the region, and then focus on the traditional roles of women in those Native American societies, comparing their status to that of indigenous men and that of contemporary European women.

The Wangunks and Connecticut's Indigenous Communities

Connecticut's indigenous communities have long, rich histories that extend back to when they shared Mother Earth with mastodons and other extinct animals. Ignored or themselves falsely labeled extinct by local 19th century town histories, the story of their evolution into complex tribal societies with sophisticated social and political traditions had remained largely untold. This PowerPoint presentation introduces the audience to these vibrant American Indian cultures just before European contact, particularly the Wangunks, a populous, powerful tribe with extensive homelands on both sides of the Connecticut River Valley. It discusses indigenous relationships with white colonists, the great changes in the physical and social landscapes engendered by colonialism, and how Native American communities adapted to their constantly changing world through a series of survival strategies. Their descendants continue to be a vibrant part of Connecticut life today.

The Tunxis & the Indigenous Communities of Connecticut: Community Survival after European Settlement

Connecticut's indigenous communities have long, rich histories that extend back to when they shared Mother Earth with mastodons and other extinct animals. Ignored or themselves falsely labeled extinct by local 19th century town histories, the story of their evolution into complex tribal societies with sophisticated social and political traditions had remained largely untold. This PowerPoint presentation introduces the audience to these vibrant American Indian cultures, particularly the Tunxis tribe with extensive homelands in the Farmington River Valley, just before European contact and discusses subsequent indigenous relationships with white colonists, the great changes in the physical and social landscapes engendered by colonialism, and how Native American communities adapted to their constantly changing world through a series of survival strategies. Their descendants continue to be a vibrant part of Connecticut life today.

Mohican Memorabilia and Manuscripts from the Stockbridge Mission House "Indian Museum": The Persistence of Mohican Culture and Community

This presentation is a result of Dr. Lucianne Lavin's research in 2010 as the Scholar in Residence at the Stockbridge Mission House in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The program was funded by Mass Humanities, a state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The goal of this particular project was to broaden our understanding of the history of the Stockbridge Mohican community through a study of the Mohican artifacts and documents housed at the historic Mission House museum, which was originally built in 1737 for the Mohican's first minister, John Sergeant.

Connecticut's Native Americans and their Natural World

CT's indigenous communities have long, rich histories that extend back to when they shared Mother Earth with mastodons and other extinct animals. Through those thousands of years, Native Americans became experts in their natural environments, a necessity for their physical survival. New England was not a “wilderness”, as described by the early English settlers, but a built landscape. Our first environmental stewards, Native American communities had long been managing their physical environments to enhance plant and animal populations. Indigenous folklore and sacred stories promoted this stewardship. Birds were an important part of the environmental planning, not just as a food source but also for their spiritual significance. Though ravaged by European diseases, war, land losses, poverty, and discrimination, Native American peoples adapted to their constantly changing physical and social landscapes through a series of survival strategies. Their communities remain a vibrant part of Connecticut life.

Native American History IS American History

This is a PowerPoint presentation on the significance of Native Americans to our American history and culture in general. It discusses the contributions of Native American peoples and their traditional cultures to clearly demonstrate that their history must be considered a part of American history.

Our Hidden Landscapes: Stone Cultural Features and Ceremonial Landscapes

A hike in the woods often reveals a variety of stone cultural features to the experienced archaeologist and historian. Many of these are the remains of abandoned farmsteads and industrial mill sites. Others, however, represent Native American ceremonial sites. The idea of Native American built stone features and ceremonial landscapes are fairly new to Northeastern archaeologists in general, who traditionally thought all were the result of Euro-American farm clearing. Some of it is, of course, but some of it is not. The latter is often associated with celestial movements that may reflect the timing of annual ceremonies/festivals. These ritual sites are often found on rocky uplands for the very reason that the land has been preserved from industrialization and housing projects. This PowerPoint presentation is an overview of the various kinds of European-American and indigenous stone structures found on our Connecticut landscapes. State regulations support preservation of sacred Native American sites (that is, those of ritual significance), and so it is important for members of land trusts and conservation organizations to be able to recognize these sites within their properties, and inform the CT State Historic Preservation Office and Office of State Archaeology of their presence.

A Native American Winter

If you were a Native American living 500 (or 1000 or 5000) years ago, likely you would look forward to the winter season. Connecticut's indigenous communities were outdoor peoples. They spent most of their lives in the open air. During warm weather people slept outdoors. Weetoos and wigwams (the Eastern Algonquian word for houses) were used for storage and as shelters in inclement weather. This PowerPoint presentation describes the traditional winter activities of Native American before the coming of European settlers to Connecticut.

Native American Pottery: The Sacred & the Mundane

One of the most negative stereotypes of American Indians is that their cultures were simple and primitive. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Having migrated into North America by at least 12,000 years ago and more likely over 35,000 years ago, Native American peoples have had thousands of years to develop their tribal traditions and belief systems into the complex, sophisticated entities encountered by their first European visitors. This PowerPoint presentation uses one aspect of their material culture to illustrate this fact. Examples of Native American ceramics from several tribal cultures will be discussed in terms of their technologies, designs, functions, and meaningful symbolisms. The geographic regions covered will include the Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest.

Native Americans: The First American Mineralogists

One of the most negative stereotypes of American Indians is that their cultures were simple and primitive. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Having migrated into North America by at least 12,000 years ago - and more likely over 35,000 years ago, Native American peoples have had thousands of years to develop their tribal traditions and belief systems into the complex, sophisticated entities encountered by their first European visitors. This PowerPoint presentation uses one aspect of their material culture to illustrate this fact. Examples of Native American knowledge of mineralogy from tribal cultures through time and in various regions of the United States will be discussed in terms of technologies, functions, and symbolisms.

Jim Thorpe, The Sac & Fox Tribe, and CT's Native Americans – Then and Now

The Institute for American Indian Studies will give an interactive presentation on Jim Thorpe, his tribe The Sac and Fox, and how that tribe and its history relates to the tribe in your CT town. Jim Thorpe was a Native American, a gold medal winner in the 1912 Olympics, and the "original All-American". The PowerPoint presentation will introduce the audience to Jim's personal history, events in American Indian history with which it was entwined, and present day information on local Native American tribes and how they relate to our community.

Education for Indigenous Extinction: The View from Connecticut

It is a miracle that we still have American Indian tribes in CT. Native American communities have endured over 400 years of racism, discrimination, poverty & injustice caused by factors of European invasion. They endured fierce detribalization efforts by federal and state governments. A major tool for detribalizing was Indian boarding schools. This PowerPoint presentation will discuss the effects of Indian boarding schools on indigenous identity and culture in the United States in general, and Connecticut in particular.

Contemporary Native American Communities: An Introduction

This PowerPoint presentation introduces the audience to several contemporary Native American communities. Specifically, it will compare and contrast those in the West with those in southern New England, stressing their diversity in physical environment, culture and history. The result is major differences in their historic reservation cultures.

A Native American Walk through your Land Preserve

Delve into the Native American history of your preserve. Join archaeologist Lucianne Lavin, the Director of Research and Collections at the Institute for American Indian Studies, for a leisurely walk through the meadows and woodlands of your preserve, the homeland of Native American communities for thousands of years prior to European settlement. Dr. Lavin will point out the bountiful variety of natural resources that likely drew indigenous peoples to the region and discuss their importance to their Native American cultures. She will also describe the archaeological research, whose discoveries have contributed to our knowledge of Native settlement and land use within and adjacent to your land.

Digging for Venture

Broteer Furro AKA Venture Smith is one of America's true, real life heroes whose adventures had been largely unsung until recently. He was born about 1729, the eldest son of a West African prince, into a life fraught with murder, abduction, enslavement, and discrimination. He overcame these adversities through hard work, honesty, and courage, eventually becoming a respected free black land owner and businessmen in Haddam, CT. At his death in 1805, he owned three houses, over 100 acres of farmland, and a fleet of boats representing his successful fishing and coastal trade endeavors. At age 77, he dictated his autobiography to a local school teacher, which was published in 1798. The narrative dealt mainly with the injustices he suffered due to other men's greed and prejudices. It offers little insight into Venture's daily life style such as his recreational and religious activities, material goods, or social relationships. One sentence alludes to his "farm" and another to "produce". Descriptions of the farm and his houses, and what he produced are unmentioned. A multi-year archaeological project begun in 2001 that included Venture's farm and home uncovered thousands of objects and over a dozen structural remains that confirmed and expanded upon the vague references to farming and boats in the narrative, and provided previously unknown information on Venture's daily life, economic status, and moral standards, proving him to be a role model for all Americans.

1 hour
In-State: $250
Out-Of-State: $275
Mileage Rate: $0.54 per mile