5 Fun Ways to Experience the Institute for American Indian Studies

Welcome to our series recognizing the wonderful local nonprofit organizations that play a major role in contributing to the Washington community. Read on for our spotlight on the Institute for American Indian Studies!

The Institute for American Indian Studies (IAIS) is a museum and research center that was founded in Washington in 1975. IAIS is dedicated to preserving the history and traditions of Native American culture, and educating visitors through research, exhibits, special events, and workshops for individuals of all ages. Here are 5 fun ways you can enjoy and experience this local treasure!

1. Tour the Exhibitions

The museum’s exhibits allow visitors to travel through time, displaying astounding artifacts and presenting information about Native Americans since time immemorial through the present day.

Quinnetukut: Our Homeland, Our Story Exhibit: This core exhibition follows the 10,000 year long story of Connecticut’s Native American Peoples from the distant past to their lives and culture today.

Algonkian Village: The replicated village at IAIS depicts the features common to an Algonkian village of 350 to 1000 years ago. Visitors can take one of their self-guided trails to explore the seasonal world of Woodland Indian peoples, ending the adventure in the village.

Children’s Discovery Room: The Children’s Discovery Room is an exhibit designed specifically for kids, providing a fun and stimulating learning experience, showing visitors what life would have been like for them had they been a Native American living in the Woodlands 600 years ago.

“Nebizun: Water Is Life” Exhibit – On display through the end of March 2023: This temporary exhibit features artwork by Abenaki artists of the Champlain Valley and Connecticut River Valley regions to illustrate the Abenaki relationship to water, their awareness of water as a fundamental element, and their concern that pollution of water can change our traditional lifeways and the health of all beings.

Learn more about current exhibits

Quinnetukut: Our Homeland, Our Story Exhibit
Algonkian Village

2. Attend Upcoming Special Events

The best way to learn more about Native American cultures and all that the Institute for American Indian Studies has to offer is to visit the museum and attend special upcoming events happening this year.

Looking for Clues: Trekking and Tracking Hike

Sunday, March 5th
Join IAIS Educator and Ecologist Susan Scherf for a winter walk through the woodland environment and practice looking for, listening to – and maybe even knowing how to smell – evidence of animal life.
Register here

Maple Sugar Festival
Saturday, March 11th
Join IAIS staff for an event celebrating the gift of Maple Sugar with demonstrations of traditional techniques of collecting sap, traditional Native American storytelling, family-friendly educational activities, and freshly made pancakes topped with local maple syrup.
Get tickets

Creating A Ripple Effect: A World Water Day Celebration
Saturday, March 18th
Water is one of the most vital resources for all beings and has important cultural significance in many indigenous communities. In advance of World Water Day on March 22, join us for a fun and educational event, appropriate for learners of all ages, celebrating this precious gift.
Register here

Sunday Fun Day Workshop: Songs and Stories
Sunday, March 26th
Listen to traditional Native American stories featuring birds, get an introduction to bird watching from IAIS Museum Educator and expert birder, Susan Scherf, and bring home a pinecone owl.
Register here

Maple Sugar Festival
Maple Sugar Festival Tree Scavenger Hunt

3. Try your Skills in the Wigwam Escape Room

Wigwam Escape’s thematic puzzles challenge players to hunt, find water and prepare food similar to how Native people did for thousands of years. This hands-on experience of history is demonstrated through a series of custom puzzles and hand crafted set, complete with a full sized traditionally sourced wigwam.

Get tickets to Wigwam Escape

Wigwam Escape Winners
Inside of Wigwam Escape

4. Attend Educational Programs

Each year, the IAIS reaches more than 6,000 school age students in the region through a variety of hands-on and thought provoking educational programs for schools, Scouts and youth organizations. But did you know that the IAIS Education Department also offers group lectures and education programs for adults? For inquiries or to book a program, please contact our Education Director, Darlene Kascak (Schaghticoke Tribal Nation) at [email protected].

Learn more about IAIS’s Education Programs


“For me, my position at the museum is not just a job. It is what I am meant to do, my purpose in life, to preserve, protect and share the true stories of the Native American people in the past and present.“

– Darlene Kascak, Education Director & Traditional Native American Storyteller, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation

Traditional Native American storytelling
Educational programs for children

5. Experience IAIS Summer Camp

The IAIS is offering six weeks of summer camp focused on the lifeways and lessons of Native Peoples! Join experienced educators and camp staff on a journey exploring Native American history and culture, archaeology, ecology and survival skills. Each week, while hiking in the woods, playing games, doing crafts, and making friends, campers will work together to complete a group project. By doing so, campers will not only learn valuable life skills, but will also have a positive impact on future visitors, students, and campers.

Learn more about Summer Camp

Please note that Summer Camp 2023 offerings are now up on the IAIS website. Registration will open March 7th!


“The experiences that visitors, students and campers have at our museum create memories that can last a lifetime as they gain a deeper appreciation for Native American history and culture. These programs also help people learn more about themselves as well as the world around them, and can create moments that break down the artificial barriers that seemingly divide us.”

– Gabe Benjamin, Camp Director, Public Programs Coordinator & Educator of IAIS

Summer Camp with IAIS
Activities at IAIS

Visit the Museum

Institute of American Indian Studies

The Institute for American Indian Studies is a 501(c)3 museum and research center dedicated to providing unique, informative and engaging experiences for our members and visitors alike.


The museum is open year-round Wednesdays through Sundays from 11:00am to 4:00pm (closed on Mondays & Tuesdays and major holidays). General admission is $12.00 for adults, $10.00 for senior citizens, and $8.00 for children ages 3-12 years old. Gift shop admission is always free!

To learn more about the interesting history of IAIS and how you can support and get involved, visit their website at: www.iaismuseum.org.