Handsell highlights local cultures

Submitted to the Dorchester Banner/Zoë Phillips
Daniel Firehawk Abbott is an interpreter of Eastern Woodland Indians. He spoke on the history and culture of his people during Chicone Village Day on Saturday.

VIENNA — On Saturday, visitors had the chance to get up close and personal with Handell’s past in an annual event known as Chicone Village Day.

When visitors first arrive, their eyes are immediately drawn to structures around a brick home that is also called the Handsell House.

Handsell House itself was once the home of colonial settlers as well as slaves and servants, and it was built on land that was occupied by Native American people. Chicone Village Day is a unique experience that honors the lives of each of those groups of people.

In the upper level of the house, they told the story of the families that had once made the building their home. That was also where they offered some people the chance to make their very own Tobacco Baskets this year, with the help of the Center for Research in Basketry.

In the lower level of the house, visitors could see the old slave or servant quarters, a small storage room, and a kitchen complete with a fireplace and oven. There they had the opportunity to learn about Handsell through an educational video, or even buy a delicious meal inspired by those made centuries ago.

Then, visitors could travel outside to see an authentic Native American longhouse and garden along with some other interesting things, such as displays of artifacts that have been collected here on the Eastern Shore. You could even sit back and watch demonstrations of how Native Americans chipped pieces of stone to make beautiful arrowheads or some ceremonial pieces. On the opposite side of the longhouse, you could smell meat being cooked over a fire as you learned about food sources, pottery, and other aspects of their culture from volunteers and people from the Pocomoke Indian Nation.

One of the highlights of the event was hearing Daniel Firehawk Abbott speak about the everyday lives of the Native American people. Mr. Abbott is an interpreter of the Eastern Woodland Indians, and on Saturday he donned full native attire to truly illustrate the history of this amazing site. A great number of people came to hear him speak, and it became such an immersive experience with his help.

The event would not have been so successful without the aid of all the volunteers at Handsell who have worked hard to preserve the site. Mark your calendars for their next big event this fall: the Nanticoke River Jamboree on Saturday, Oct. 12. For more information, see: www.restorehandsell.org.

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