Families Learn Scientific, Cultural Importance Of Herring 5-2-16

Families Learn Scientific, Cultural Importance Of Herring
Mashpee Enterprise
By LANNAN M. O'BRIEN May 2, 2016

A number of families stopped by the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum on Saturday, April 30, to join herring-related activities outdoors. The museum is located beside a herring run in the Mashpee River.

Between 10 AM and 2 PM, attendees of the event learned about the scientific importance of the herring from scientists and naturalists from the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, Mass Audubon's Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary and the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. Kitty Hendricks, a Mashpee Wampanoag tribe member and the museum's cultural program developer, was also there to offer a cultural perspective on the species.

"I told people how we preserved herring by smoking and salting it," she said in an interview on Monday, May 2.

Many children were at the event, Ms. Hendricks said. She showed them a fishnet that tribe members would use to catch herring, explaining that they could also gather fish in one spot using what she described as underwater fences. That way, she said, they could take fish as they needed them. She also showed them smoked herring made in a smokehouse at the property.

Herring that were born in the Mashpee River return annually to spawn. Their return is celebrated as the tribe's New Year and the beginning of spring.

"I remember looking forward to coming to the herring run as a child," Ms. Hendricks said. "It was one of the things that kept us closer together."

Also at the event, there was an underwater camera that showed a herring's-eye view of the river. Ms. Hendricks said that it helped people see and count fish passing through the run.

Several attendees stopped by on their way to other events in town, such as the Cape Cod Mini Maker Faire at Mashpee Middle/High School, she said. They seemed grateful to learn about herring, a species that many of them knew little about.

"It was a good-feeling day," Ms. Hendricks said.

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