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The Nipmuk Tribe

The University of the Wild is located on Nipmuc land of the First Nations People. Evidence of this Earth-connected culture still stands at the nearby Equinox Underground Chambers and within local archives. The property is within a few hundred yards of the well-documented Nashway Trail that runs from the Nichewaug Section to Mount Wachusett and through acres of Nipmuc hunting grounds.

The Nipmuc/k are a state-recognized tribe whose culture and significance to central New England has persisted in spite of centuries of colonization, industrialization and assimilation. After generations of dispossession from the land and forced urbanization, our people have an increasingly urgent need to regain our place in the indigenous landscape as our elders pass on and our youth press to recover our history and our ways. Today the tribe, nearly 3,000 strong, has family clans throughout southern New England and beyond

In 2019, the Nipmuc/k partnered with the Wild Earth Community Land Trust in the Quabbin bio-region of Petersham, Massachusetts—a part of our ancestral homeland known as Nichewaug—and regained 18.5 acres for much needed comprehensive community land and a facility we can call our own: the Nipmuc Culture and Education Center. The property is surrounded by over 4,000 acres of protected forest and agricultural land. The profound natural beauty of the area and its historic significance to the Nipmuc/k make it an ideal location for welcoming all of our people, as well as others.

Our Culture and Education Center will enable us to renew our relationship with traditional lands and teachings, and celebrate and share our culture with the communities around us. Bringing together the past and the future, our facility
will include a traditional longhouse, a youth-oriented craft workspace and language rooms, community cooking and gathering spaces, an elder room with a climate-controlled archive—all connected by a generous screened porch that will curve along the edge of an outdoor pow wow circle. Designed with capacity for further growth, the environmentally-friendly building will feature local materials, energy-efficient passive and active solar construction, state-of- the-art composting toilets, rainwater harvesting and filtration, permeable paving, and extensive gardens for cultivating and teaching about culturally significant indigenous plants.

Model of NCP Building

Members of the Nipmuc/k community, working with students and faculty from the Department of Architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the Conway School of Landscape Design, have established a preliminary design for a cultural and education center structure that will enable them to gather, celebrate, share their culture, and renew their relationship with traditional lands and teachings.

Nipmuk Cultural Preservation, Inc.

NCP’s mission is to preserve and promote Nipmuc/k culture, language, and ceremony, while improving the quality of life for Nipmuc/k citizens. NCP goals are to identify, protect, and monitor historical & ceremonial sites, acquire significant Nipmuc lands, develop & sponsor educational programs, promote & provide resources, and community activities and programs designed to reconnect Nipmuc tribal youth to the land and their heritage through natural experiences.
Contact: Fred Freeman, Chair, NCP, (508) 344-9685 <nippinamos@gmail.com> www.NipmucNation.org

 

“…with the return of some of the original Nipmuc lands in Petersham, from our original village of Nicheaug, we are excited about creating our Nipmuc Cultural & Education Center and to be a part of the University of the Wild curriculum and learning community.” Fred “Nippin” Freeman, Chair, Nipmuk Preservation, Inc.

it will assure that Tribal Members will have a safe and culturally appropriate place to teach all Nipmuks and the general public Indigenous Ways, particularly for the Nipmuk youth and future generations”. He goes on to state “that the land and the center will provide a unique opportunity for the Elders of the Tribe to pass their language and teachings to the next generations”. The late David “Tall Pine” White, Keeper of the Nipmuc Language

…the creation of a Nipmuk Cultural Center at the UofWild in Petersham, as proposed by the Architecture Program at UMass/Amherst, will move the preservation of the Nipmuc culture and an expanded education of natives and non-natives to a whole new level…we look forward to a collaboration.” Ms. Ray Mann, Tenured Professor, UMass/Amherst Architecture Dept.

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