The Institute for American Indian Studies


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 focus on the Kirby Brook Site digs. In 1971, the chapter was incorporated as the Shepaug Valley Archaeological Society. With their collections growing and no place to exhibit them, co-founders Ned Swigart and Sidney Hessel began a capital campaign to raise monies and the American Indian Archaeological Institute was born. In 1975 the AIAI Visitor Center was officially dedicated. In 1978 the longhouse classroom and research library were opened and one year later the outdoor replicated Algonkian Indian Village was created.

The focus of the Institute has always been stewardship and preservation. In 1991, the name was changed and we became the Institute for American Indian Studies. With the name change there was a shift in focus to include education in conjunction with research. The Longhouse Classroom was renovated in 1994 to include a mural depicting early village life and our outdoor replicated village was moved and rebuilt on its current site in early 1997.

The Research and Collections building, fully completed in 2002, houses a state of the art climate controlled storage facility, laboratory, research and education libraries (open by appointment only), conference hall and additional offices. Today the Institute is thriving with approximately 15,000 school children visiting each school year, summer day camps and various workshops, lectures and exhibits - all celebrating Native American Culture. Public-oriented archaeology programs have been reinstituted under Dr. Lucianne Lavin's capable direction and the museum gift shop is fully stocked with craft items, jewelry and art from across Native America.


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