Joan Tavares Avant

This writer is so glad I’m still alive to read that the celebration of Columbus Day is in the past and that for the first time ever people in Mashpee will be honoring and celebrating a townwide Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 14, 2019. It is so long overdue.

I thank all who support this new holiday voted by last year’s Mashpee Town Meeting. We, the Mashpee Wampanoag, “People of the First Light,” have been here in southeastern Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years, long before the Mayflower Pilgrims landed in 1620 in Provincetown.

Our ancestors fished the Atlantic Ocean, and the rivers, they picked cranberries, and they hunted the animals, all of which means maintaining our cultural traditional knowledge. They held together our spiritual ceremonies and all pathways of sovereignty for present and future generations.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Kakana-ey Igorot tribe), UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said, “Traditional knowledge has guided Indigenous People through time, and many of these knowledge systems exist into the present. These knowledge systems are vital in ensuring that Indigenous People are able to maintain their own ecosystems and continue to benefit from them. Traditional knowledge is also very much rooted in our cultures and identities…”

All above is what we still strive for and more.

This week is very busy for a lot of us; the 2019 All Nations Unity Conference is October 11 through 14 at the 55 acres at 483 Great Neck Road South in Mashpee. A sunrise ceremony will be at South Cape Beach each morning at 6 AM. There will be meals and program activities each day. Come with a positive mind, love, and respect. There will be no alcohol or drugs of any kind on the grounds. No hate judgments, gossip, or intimidation.

The Town of Mashpee Historical Commission will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on Monday from 11 AM to 2 PM in the Archives building across from Mashpee Town Hall. All are welcome. Come see artifacts and the historical story of Mashpee and learn about people who helped preserve this wonderful history over the years. Coffee, cider and peach cobbler will be prepared by Rita Pocknett of Native Times Coffee.

Joan Tavares Avant, M.Ed., is a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Wampanoag Deer Clan mother, and a former director of the Mashpee School District’s Indian Education Program. She can be reached at

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