By Mark Knecht
SYRACUSE — Chautauqua-Wawasee and Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum are collaborating to offer the third annual series of three programs that explore the history of Native Americans in northeastern Indiana.
The three programs are presented during a three-day period this week with the first two one-hour programs held at the Syracuse Community Center; the third program will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation Amphitheater.
All programs are offered free of charge and open to the public. Each program features presenters with expert knowledge and provides an interactive environment for discussion and hands-on examination of artifacts.
This year’s programs are:
• 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2, at the Syracuse Community Center
Dr. Jeff Pyle will discuss and display a portion of the renowned Fred Bartol Collection of Prehistoric Indian Artifacts. This is considered to be one of the finest collections of Midwest pre-historic Indian relics. It was compiled by Warsaw’s Bartol, who began collecting at a young age and collected his entire life. Upon his death in 1972, the collection was packed up and put away until Pyle acquired it in 2019.
• 6:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3, at the Syracuse Community Center
Notre Dame professors and researchers, Dr. Mark Schurr and Dr. Madeline McLeester, will be speaking about what archaeologists know about northern Indiana from the very first humans to settle here more than 10,000 years ago through the historic occupations of the Potawatomi and Miami, with a special focus on Kosciusko County. The speakers will also present some new results from their ongoing research, the Kankakee Protohistory Project, which investigates how past societies used the Kankakee Marsh environment as well as changes to the marsh itself through time. Join Chautauqua-Wawasee for an evening filled with everything from woolly mammoths to sprawling mound centers, and uncover Indiana’s unique and rich archaeological past.
• 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Wawasee Area Conservancy Ruddell Pavilion
Five individual programs are being offered:
• Myaamia (Miami Native American) plant traditions — 9–10:30 a.m.
Led by Dani Tippmann at WACF Amphitheater Follow Myaamia history as participants look at the lives of the plants who accompany us on our journey through time.
• French influence in the area — 10:30 a.m. to noon
Led by Joe Zdziebko
Joe Zdziebko, dressed as a 1750s French Marine will display and discuss his equipment, uniform, musket, furs, maps, etc. He will also talk about old sayings still used today.
• Flintknapping hands-on — 10:30 a.m. to noon
Led by Jeff Mesaros
Want to know how native American artifacts were made by hand? Mesaros will show participants how. And here’s your chance to try making one.
• Kayak Display —10:30 a.m. to noon
Led by Mike Smith
Smith will display and describe his hand-built 17-foot sea kayak.
• Archaeological Dig for Children — 10:30 a.m. to noon
Led by Jamie Clemons
Through this hands-on activity, students will “dig” for artifacts, documenting findings through drawings and notes.
The ChautauquaWawasee website and Facebook have more details, as does the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum and its website. If questions call (574) 377-7543. On Facebook, search ChautauquaWawasee.
Based in Syracuse, Chautauqua-Wawasee is a non-profit organization that provides life-enriching programs for the northern Indiana region.