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Chamberlain Reynolds Memorial Forest Looking to Early Indigenous Stewards on Squam Lake, N.H.

Last updated on June 30, 2021

Posted February 2019

So glad I joined Americorps volunteer Adel Barnes on her guided “walk through time” on the Chamberlain-Reynolds Memorial Forest perimeter loop trail for Squam Lakes Association. She covered the first people who lived in the Squam area, ending with discussion about conservation today. Hearing Adel’s perspective about the contrast between the 29 recognized Native American tribes in her home state of Washington with the fact that there are none in N.H. made her story about the impact of the Seven Year or French and Indian War in the New England area, (1754-1761), more interesting. Less than 1% of the current NH population claims to be of Abenaki descent- the Abenaki is the name of the native people who inhabited Grafton and Coos County before European contact.

I visited the 2018 NH State Conservation and Rescue Archaeology Program (SCRAP) that documented Native American occupation at “the Hollow” on the Pemi River at Livermore Falls, but I did not know about the archaeological sites on the two sides of the river connecting Big and Little Squam. A local woman hiking with our group remembers finding artifacts as a young girl when she was visiting the owners of one of the sites on the river.

A 12,000-year-old spear point was found near Jefferson, NH in the 1990’s and nearly 60 other Native American sites have been identified around New England. Based on stone tools and other artifacts found near a Jefferson site in 2017, the area was believed to have been used for hunting and slaughtering caribou that were present after the Ice Age before forests covered the terrain. Pieces of stone from as far away as Maine and New York have been found suggesting the the Native Americans at this time were nomadic – following herds. Volunteers excavating a shallow pit in Jefferson in 2017 also found a collection of softball-sized stones which could have been the remains of a sweat lodge.

The new, more recent history that Adele shared about the people who visited Squam, was about guests coming to the area during prohibition, where a room key came with alcohol.

Adele had lots of old photos to illustrate the different eras on Squam, part of the archive at Squam Lakes Association.

I was particularly interested to hike on the property as one of my PSU classes is looking at conserved forests in the area. This 186 acre property has abandoned fields, a swamp, old growth hemlock, and beaches. Heron Cove is a critical nesting area for loons. The New England Forestry Foundation owns and manages the forest and SLA maintains 5 campsites and 3.5 miles of trails. The two organizations have collaborated since 1960. The forest management plan has include at least 6 timber sales. The NE Forest Foundation has been in existence since 1944.          

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