Living history encampment promotes education, culture

Oct 21, 2018

There’s plenty of history on the grounds of the New Bedford Rod and Gun Club’s sprawling 200-acre property, making it the perfect location to hold a weekend living history exhibit.

The club’s annual Living History Weekend on October 20 and 21 attracted dozens of history buffs and members of various Native American tribes which have called the region home for hundreds or thousands of years.

They set up encampments, cooked traditional cuisine, and offered live demonstrations of weapons and traditional games for the younger people in attendance.

It’s a growing event, and part of an effort to connect the community with its history, explained Paul E. Levasseur. In years past, the N. Hixville Rd. property was home to a village, grist mills, and saw mills. Remnants still exist today in the form of the water system created to power the mills, and trails which date back hundreds of years.

“A lot of people in Dartmouth don’t know about the native people who have lived here throughout the centuries and still do today,” Levasseur said.

Jonathan James Perry, who is part of the Wampanoag Aquinnah tribe, helped serve up traditional food at the event, including roasted duck. Also on the menu was cracked corn broiled with maple syrup, cranberries, and sunflower seeds.

“It’s one of the first things you get going in the morning and keep it on throughout the day,” Perry said. “It’s traditionally an all-day food.”

Members of other area Native American tribes were also in attendance, including the Abenaki and Narragansett tribes.

For younger audiences, there were activities to try. Sophia Sousa tried her hand at tomahawk throwing, aiming to throw the ax at a playing card in the center of a target -- although she did struggle a bit to make her throws.

“The kids have a lot of fun tossing sharp objects,” noted Rui Sousa.

There were also plenty of weapon demonstrations, from 17th century hunting guns to hand cannons.

Levasseur said the weekend event is growing every year, and will continue next year. It is one of several historical-themed events the club organizes. The club also organizes native culture classes, and hosts historical events using black powder-era weaponry.