Wampanoag New Year Celebration At Old Indian Meeting House

The newest, and youngest, Wampanoag Tribal Council member, Brian Weeden, leads the “stomp dance” at the end of the Wampanoag New Year Celebration.

Sometime around Monday, October 14, Mashpee will officially celebrate indigenous culture rather than an explorer whose name has become synonymous with imperialism and exploitation of the natives.

Town Meeting on Monday voted for Mashpee to join a growing list of cities, towns, universities and even states that have made the change from celebrating Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

The vote on Monday, May 6, was not unanimous, but there was little discussion on the floor.

Petitioner Brian M. Weeden, a Mashpee Wampanoag tribal citizen, brought the petition forward. He had brought the change forward to the tribe, which renamed the holiday on tribal calendars in 2017. In August, the Mashpee School Committee passed its own resolution to change the holiday’s name on district calendars.

Most recently, Vermont and Maine announced they would celebrate the holiday rather than Columbus Day. A number of states, although not Massachusetts, have made the change.

"It feels rewarding," Mr. Weeden said, following the vote. "I made my ancestors and people proud."

Mr. Weeden said that he is hoping to plan some sort of celebration or even powwow for the October 14 holiday. He plans to work with the Mashpee Historical Commission, Mashpee Inclusion and Diversity Committee, and the Mashpee Cultural Council to plan the first Indigenous Peoples Day celebration. He hopes that the event can be held in a public area like the community park or a common area near the Mashpee Public Library.

Also on Monday, Town Meeting decided to change its seal, another petition article submitted by Mr. Weeden. Mr. Weeden called the town's current seal similar to a swastika or the Confederate flag.

"I think that speak volumes that the only Indian tribe on the Cape is rewriting our history," he said. "It's a good feeling."

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