Nookumuhs is the Pequot word for “my grandmother” and is the name given to the muhshoon (Pequot word for a traditional dugout canoe,) constructed on the Pequot Museum’s farmstead this spring. Our Mission Muhshoon Project represents a cultural resurgence in a new area of “reclaiming the waterways.” Therefore, Nookumuhs or Grandmother, symbolizes the matriarch of a cultural movement that will hopefully continue to grow.
Wampanoag canoe makers, Jonathan Perry, traditional artist and culture bearer at Martha’s Vineyard Aquinnah Cultural Center, and Darius Coombs, associate director of the Wampanoag Indigenous Program, guided the construction with volunteer assistance from members of several Native American communities. This was the largest muhshoon made in the traditional method of burning and hand scraping in over 200 years.
On August 8, 2015, Nookumuhs made her maiden voyage from the Mystic Seaport to Noank and back, paddled by 12 representatives from 6 New England tribes; the Mashantucket Pequots, the Narragansetts, the Schaghticokes, the Passamaquoddy, and Aquinnah and Mashpee Wampanoags and the Shinnecocks from Long Island.
Additionally, we have created a virtual exhibit entitled, “Reclaiming the Waterways: Mission Muhshoon—The Dugout Canoe of the Pequots” that is hosted on the Google Cultural Institute platform. The online exhibit discusses the modern discovery of dugout canoes in lakes and rivers, the role of mishoons in Pequot society and so much more.