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Douglaston historians talk Matinecoc heritage

The Douglaston & Little Neck Historical Society will host a lecture later this month on the history of native Americans in Douglaston and Little Neck, where some believe ancestral remains are still buried, a spokesman for the society said.

On April 19, Long Island University’s John Strong, a professor emeritus of history and American studies, will discuss the evolution of native American culture in Douglaston, Little Neck and various Long Island communities before the arrival of European settlers.

The historical society will hold the event, to begin at 3 p.m., at the Community Church of Douglaston at 39−50 Douglaston Pkwy.

“The Matinecoc Indians are native to Douglaston and their burial ground was overlooking Little Neck Bay,” said Dan O’Byrne, chairman of the society’s community relations committee. “They moved it to the Zion Church cemetery in 1931, but to this day they still believe some of their descendants were not moved. So it’s a big deal to them. They believe their people were split up.”

The Native American burial ground was moved amid a project to widen the road that is now Northern Boulevard. Descendants still live in Little Neck, Douglaston and a number of Long Island communities.

The lecture will focus on a number of issues, including settlement patterns, tool technology, wigwam construction, food, medicine, agriculture and wampum making, O’Byrne said. A question−and−answer session will follow the lecture.

The event will be free, but the society hopes to sign up non−members who attend, he said.

The society’s next event will be a visit in May to Connecticut’s Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan. O’Byrne said the group plans to hold several more lecture events this year on the history of northeast Queens neighborhoods.

“We want to promote the history of Douglaston and Little Neck, which is rich and broad,” he said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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