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A Native Thanksgiving

Visitors to Nassau County’s Garvies Point Museum and Preserve were transported back in time on Nov. 23 and 24 when the museum held its Annual Thanksgiving Native American Feast. More than 1,000 people attended the two-day event, which showcased the lives of Native Americans. Numerous hands-on activities gave participants the opportunity to try their luck at spear throwing, corn grinding, cooking over an open fire and pottery making. 

 

The feast was the perfect outing for several Cub Scout troops and group home organizations as well as for families from across Long Island. For Sea Cliff siblings Zeke and Uma it was a special day at a place they visit often and have strong ties to. Their grandfather had been one of the museum’s early volunteers. For the Ferrera family of Islip it was a new adventure. Renee Ferrera is a social studies teacher who had taken her classes on trips to Garvies in the past and always enjoyed it. 

 

 “When I saw they were having this event, I just knew it would be a perfect time to bring my husband and my own kids here,” said Ferrera.  

 

One of the most popular attractions of the weekend was the outdoor fire pit. Volunteer Ted Strickroth (Tipi Ted) of the Wilderness Travel Museum engaged the crowd by demonstrating how to make a fire by, literally, rubbing two sticks together.

 

“The fire was the TV of long ago,” said Strickroth. “Children would sit in the wigwams, watch the fire and listen to the stories of the elders.”  

 

Children and adults alike had the chance to prepare and cook native foods over the fire, including popcorn soup, fish and squash.  Once the food was cooked, Strickroth explained that in the days of the Native Americans, the young ones

made an offering of food to the elders and, in turn, the elders offered wisdom to the young. The children were then asked to come up to the fire where they were given food that they then offered to an elder in the crowd. The fish and the squash were declared “delicious;” the popcorn soup not so much.   

 

Brian Nugent, the recently appointed Chief Deputy Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Museums for Nassau County,  dropped by on Saturday to survey the festivities.  

 

“This is fantastic,” said Nugent. “It shows the true meaning of Thanksgiving in the past and I hope this weekend is the beginning of a great Thanksgiving week for all the families who came here.”

 

Garvies Museum has been celebrating its Annual Thanksgiving Native American Feast on the weekend before Thanksgiving for more than 30 years explained Kathryne Natale, former museum worker and current President of the Friends of Garvies, who first conceived of the idea.  Close to 40 volunteers work hard each year to make it a very special event.