From his home
in Hartford, Mixashawn can see his ancestral homeland, the thickly
forested flood plain of the Connecticut River. The boat he built
to explore the river, the Amawonk Aftershock, embodies the living
tradition of his people. The 18-foot vessel, made primarily of aluminum
and plywood, combines elements of a canoe and a motorized trimarn.
like a canoe, but it really moves out," says Geofreey Conklin,
and Old Lyme boat builder and restorer, describing the Amawonk's
speed and grace to a Hartford Courant reporter.
the captain and the vessel have a lot of flair," observes Ben
Clarkson, director of the River School in Old Saybrook. The craft
seems amazingly fast, yet safe and stable, Clarkson says.
has taken the boat farther than the riverin fact on one occasion
from Long Island Sound into 12-foot waves in Naragansett Bay, through
the canal at Buzzard's Bay, and all the way to Brewster in Cape
demonstrated not only the capabilities of the Amawonk, but also
the maritime range of Mixashawn's ancestors, the people who have
lived since time immemorial in the area of Windsor, upriver from
Hartford. The Windsor community is part of the Maheekanew branch
of the Algonquin Confederation, which ranges as far as the Midwest
and down the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Delaware.
outriggers to stabilize an age-old design may be an obvious improvement,
but the actual construction is far from simple. In keeping alive
the ancient tradition, Mixashawn has adopted the past to the present,
the present to the past.