This tribute to Native Americans in New England and beyond began humbly enough, from a visit from Connecticut Grand Chief Sachem Silverstar to the second-grade class of founder Bud Thompson. From that spark began a lifelong interest in Native American culture, as Thompson dutifully collected artifacts and information about the different tribes in the region.
Just 15 years ago, he opened the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum (18 Highlawn Rd., Warner, 603/456-3244, www.indianmuseum.org , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat. and noon–5 p.m. Sun. May–Oct.; weekends and by appointment Nov.–Dec., $8.50 adults, $7.50 seniors and students, $6.50 children ages 6–12, free children under 6 and Native Americans) in the little town of Warner southeast of Sunapee Lake , stocking an exhibit hall with some 1,000 Native American artifacts including a birch-bark canoe and Hopi pottery.
This isn’t just a stale museum, however; Thompson sees his mission as preserving the living traditions of the country’s original inhabitants. A nature trail behind the museum in the so-called Medicine Woods includes signposts explaining how Native Americans would use different plants for medicinal purposes. A garden on the grounds has been grown with the descendants of 2,000-year-old Indian corn plants.
And each year in July, the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum sponsors a powwow that brings tribes from all over the country for traditional dancing and craft sharing.