What’s the Institute for American Indian Studies?
It is an organization with a short but interesting history. The institute began its life to serve archeological exploration, and the focus has always been stewardship and preservation of the Native American culture. Edmund K. (Ned) Swigart, an instructor at The Gunnery School, led the Wappinger Chapter of the Connecticut Archaeological Society from 1966 to 1970.
With a growing number of collections, Swigart and a colleague, Sidney Hessel, scurried around to raise money for space to house their finds. Soon the American Indian Archaeological Institute was born and officially dedicated in 1975, with a visitor center, just off Route 199 in Washington. In 1978 a research library was added, and in 1979, almost 40 years ago, the replicated Algonkian Indian Village was created.
In 1991, the name was changed to the Institute for American Indian Studies, reflecting a new emphasis on education and research. Fully completed in 2002, the Research and Collections building houses a climate-controlled storage facility, laboratory, research and education libraries, and offices.
Today the institute takes in about 15,000 school children a year for summer camps, workshops, and exhibits. Archeology programs are still part of the mission. And of course any non-profit, museum-like space would not be complete without a gift shop.