A rich history of Native American artifacts remains throughout Long Island, reflected in town names, reservations, ancient cemeteries, and even a few roadside attractions. At the Ketcham Inn in Center Moriches, NY, visitors can enjoy the restored Colonial-Era stage-coach stop, as well as a book-barn, community garden, and our favorite attraction: The Wooden Teepee.
This beautifully restored structure has its own odd history. Built in 1890, the teepee decorated a private estate until gifted to Paul Ward of the Unkechaug Nation. The gift was a bit bizarre, as the Shinnecocks, unlike nomadic plains tribes, lived in wigwams instead of teepees. Additionally, teepees were traditionally made with long wooden poles and animal hides. Nonetheless, this tiny building remains an icon of a bygone era.
During our visit to the Teepee, we had the opportunity to meet Bert Seides, President of the Ketcham Inn Foundation, who shared the history of the teepee and the inn, as well as the formation of the museum and historical society. If you’re in the area Thursdays through Sundays, be sure to stop by the Book Barn and pick up a gently loved book to help support the foundation and preserve this important part of Long Island culture. And of course, make sure you take pictures with the teepee.
Up the road from the Wooden Teepee is a delightful spot to eat, Atlantic Seafood Fish Market and Restaurant. Try the crab cakes, they’re amazing. And what would a trip of ours be without a little weird? If the promise of a great meal isn’t enough to convince you to stop by Atlantic Seafood, perhaps a giant parking lot shark can do the trick.
Another Native American tribute stands in Massapequa, NY. I recall my family visiting the site of Big Chief Lewis when I was little. We’d pose and wave and wonder at the monument, which stands beside a small buffalo and a horse. Built by Rodman Shutt in 1968, The Chief resides in a gated enclosure now, as repeated vandalism threatened to irreparably damage him, but he’s still a great sight to behold.
In 2000, a Cherokee-made totem pole was added to the site. Legend has it that if you touch the totem pole standing in the far right corner while making a wish, it might come true! What would your wish be? (Mine might be for more crab cakes.)