PHOTO: This display at the Burpee Museum shows a scene from a Sauk village during fall harvest. The Sauk came to this area from the Green Bay, Wisconsin, region, and settled along the west banks of the Rock River. The Sauk and Fox (Meskwaki-Mesquakie) spoke similar languages and often shared villages. Other area Native Americans were the Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago).
I moved along to other floors taking in all the sights along the way. One of my favorites was “The First People.” I like to explore different kinds of dwellings, and this exhibit didn’t disappointment. When I first arrived, there I was right by a wigwam that looked cozy enough to move into. Further on, just past the bison (and if you want to call it a buffalo, you’ll need to read the sign that explains why you shouldn’t), a tipi was waiting for me, and beyond that a pueblo dwelling.
When you’re visiting a museum, if there’s an opportunity for hands-on – and feet-on – interactions, don’t pass it up – I didn’t. Off to the side of the exhibit, a dugout canoe rested by the windows and a sign invited me to get in. I took a look at it and decided that my frame was slightly larger than the canoe, but I told myself an adult Native American male would have used the thing, so while I’m not petite, I’m not a burly hunter. You guessed it. I climbed into the canoe, tucking in my feet, then my legs. I made it. I was in the canoe. I sat there feeling very successful and enjoyed my very first “sit” in a dugout canoe. The best part of it was that I also was able to get out again, with a little help from some oars. They were stuck on the wall for that very purpose, or so I assumed that was the reason for my not getting to paddle along on the floor.