A new augmented-reality app has been launched to give people an immersive look at our region before the time of English settlement. The Homelands Application, now available for free download from the Apple Store and Google Play Store, offers a vivid look at Abenaki culture in the places they lived and worked, including Odiorne Point State Park and Star Island here in Rye.
Standing by the shore in front of Seacoast Science Center, the app opens up to show what life was like on that spot up to 1,000 years ago for Indigenous Peoples. Based on oral tradition and archaeological evidence, the illustrations show activities such as hunting wooly mammoths, building a dugout canoe, and preparing goods for trading. The app can also be opened on Star Island and on the grounds of Strawbery Banke to see scenes of those locations.
“Here at Seacoast Science Center, we’re excited to have people use this app because it’s an important conversation starter,” said Hunter Stetz, History Naturalist at SSC. “Indigenous people, past and present, in New Hampshire have long been ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ but seeing the app open and historic scenes appear, folks will be intrigued and ask questions. What we lack in above-ground archaeological sites and reservations, we are making up for with activism, exhibits, community events, art, etc. An augmented reality app is an innovative way to remind people of the enduring presence of Indigenous people in this state.”
The Homelands Application was developed cooperatively by the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki People, Indigenous New Hampshire Collaborative Collective, Film Unbound, and the Center for Humanities at the University of New Hampshire. Initial partner sites include Odiorne Point State Park and Seacoast Science Center, the Star Island Corporation, and Strawbery Banke Museum. The project was funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and generous individual donations.
Denise Pouliot, Sagimoskwa (Head Female Speaker) of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacool-Abenaki People, looks forward to the possibilities that this educational resource provides. “The Homelands Application brings the Abenaki culture and history to the forefront, offering an accurate decolonialized narrative, with an evolutionary pathway of illustrations connecting contemporary people to the natural world, past, present and future.” she said.
There is a Resource Guide available to download along with the Homeland Application. This detailed document includes an overview of the illustrations and interpretive text available within Homelands, so learning can be taken home, shared with friends or used in a classroom.
For more information on the Homelands App, please click here.