Native 'Family' Gathers For 93rd Annual Mashpee Wampanoag Pow Wow

LANNAN M. O'BRIEN/ENTERPRISE - Cheenulka Pocknett, 28, danced in traditional style in regalia he hand-beaded entirely by himself. The deer on his vest represents his name, which means "big deer," and its light blue color represents blue water, a nod to the theme of the 2014 Mashpee Wampanoag Pow Wow, "Honoring our Waterways."LANNAN M. O'BRIEN/ENTERPRISE - Marisol Long (at right) and her family, including daughter Stephanie, 19, worked as vendors at the pow wow. Ms. Long and her husband, Shane, sell their handmade items at pow wows throughout the country.LANNAN M. O'BRIEN/ENTERPRISE - Men who played the traditional game of Fireball at the pow wow were honored on Sunday with a dance to the Fireball Honor Song. Fireball is played with a flaming ball wrapped in cloth and chicken wire and is meant to heal the sick or honor loved ones who have died.LANNAN M. O'BRIEN/ENTERPRISE - Jennifer Lee, a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, sewed a bark basket with spruce root outside her vendor tent at the pow wow. Ms. Lee uses bark from harvested trees in the Berkshire Mountains for her baskets and offers basket-making classes.LANNAN M. O'BRIEN/ENTERPRISE - Mayiki Plainbull (left) of the Lumbee Tribe and Carolece Henry of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe danced together during an intertribal session at the Mashpee Wampanoag Pow Wow. The pow wow was held at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has become family to Jason Lamb and Erin Lamb-Meeches, members of the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe in Connecticut, who lost a member of their own family last summer. Mr. Lamb Sr.’s story was one of alcoholism, and it was a story that needed to be told, Ms. Lamb-Meeches said to a crowd on July 6, the last day of the 93rd Annual Mashpee Wampanoag Pow Wow.

“The alcohol took his family from him, then his job, his money, and then his life,” she said, expressing her concern regarding alcohol consumption she witnessed at the pow wow that weekend. “It’s one thing to be enjoying yourself and it’s another when it starts to control you... take a moment to realize the power that this addiction has over you and you don’t even know until it’s too late.”

Her speech followed a dance performed by Mr. Lamb, her nephew, to honor the late Jason S. Lamb—his father and Ms. Lamb-Meeches’s brother. Other tribe members, including family members, joined him as the song continued in remembrance of the deceased.

Since her brother’s death, Ms. Lamb-Meeches said that the Mashpee tribe has supported her family, and her family has supported the tribe in return.

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“We don’t visit here,” she said. “When we come here, we’re coming home.”

The concept of community was a common thread woven among the tribes that attended the pow wow, which took place at Cape Cod Fairgrounds from 10 AM to 10 PM last Friday through Sunday.

Vendor Marisol Long, a Connecticut resident and member of the South American Taino Tribe, and her husband sell their handmade jewelry, dream catchers, and other goods throughout the country. She said that her first Mashpee pow wow was “a great experience.”

“Everybody just helps each other,” she said. “They forget their own problems and they go out and help people.”

Ms. Long attended the pow wow with her husband and three children, ages 4, 16 and 19, and during Friday’s rainstorm, members of the Mashpee tribe brought food to Ms. Long’s tent for the entire family.

“The Mashpee people...they were there for us when we needed it,” she said.

Although Ms. Long is a member of the Taino Tribe, and Mr. Long, the Mohegan Tribe, she said that tribe names matter not when native people gather together.

“We are one person. We have the same father, the same creator,” she said. “They don’t say, ‘She’s Taino,’ they say, ‘She’s my sister.’ ”

Cheenulka D. Pocknett, a Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe member, helps fellow natives, too, by making their regalia for the pow wow. Mr. Pocknett’s own regalia was handmade entirely by himself and includes a light blue beaded vest with an image of a deer. The vest alone, he said, took about 400 hours to make.

“The deer is for my name, which means ‘Big Deer,’ ” he said, “and the color blue is for blue water.”

“Honoring our Waterways” was the theme of this year’s pow wow, and chairman Cedric Cromwell emphasized that theme in his introductory speech.

“We are made of water and it flows through our bodies and it flows through the earth, and we respect that,” he said.

Perhaps the theme of flowing water inspired tribe members as they danced to the beat of two drums, one made of bear hide and the other of elk hide, played by the Stoney Creek drummers. As the dance competitions progressed, a rainbow of regalia featuring feathers, fringed shawls, beaded headbands, and tortoise shells whirled throughout the outdoor arena.

The event culminated with the exhibition and crowning of the 2014 Pow Wow Princess, who represents the tribe at events and other pow wows throughout the year. The dance exhibition opened with a speech by 2013-14 Pow Wow Princess Danna (Little Storm) Jackson.

“It’s been an honor going from pow wow to pow wow and showing people that we’re Mashpee and we’re still here,” Ms. Jackson said, her voice beginning to shake as her eyes filled with tears. “To our next princess, I know... you’ll do it with pride and honor and be humble. If this is your dream, really keep going after it because you can get it and it’s possible.”

Following a dance competition with four contestants, Sassamin Weeden, 20, was announced the winner. Her brother, Brian M. Weeden, the Pow Wow Committee chairman, ran to Ms. Weeden and lifted her in the air in celebration, and her loved ones surrounded her as she was crowned.

“It’s just really an honor and I’ve worked hard for it all my life,” she said.

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