Martin E. Hendricks, 66, of Mashpee died on April 5, due to complications from pneumonia and influenza. He was known as Bruzzy.
He was born at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis and was a lifelong Mashpee resident. He graduated from Lawrence High School in Falmouth in 1972.
Mr. Hendricks worked for the Town of Mashpee Department of Public Works for 32 years until his retirement in 2012.
A member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, he was on several tribal boards and committees throughout the years. He drummed for the tribe and served as the head male dancer at several annual powwows. For several years, he was one of the powwow’s main keepers of the fireball and was a member of the Wakeby Lake Singers.
Mr. Hendricks was also known for his Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe T-shirts sold during powwow since the 1980s. In addition, he helped to coordinate the Bermuda Powwow, which has been taking place since the early 2000s on St. David’s Island.
As a community elder, he was a mentor to anyone who was willing to learn.
Mr. Hendricks was recognized with an Osamequen Award several years ago, presented at the sixth annual Winter Ball sponsored by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council. The award is named in honor of the 17th century Wampanoag Massasoit, Osamequen, who welcomed the first European settlers in 1621; the awards are given to tribal members who show extraordinary commitment and dedication to maintaining the tribal community, culture and traditions.
He was also a member of the “Mashpee Nine,” the name given to the trial for the group of Wampanoag men unjustly targeted in a July 28, 1976, police raid. The raid followed a celebration of Wampanoag heritage with feasting, socializing and drumming by members of the tribe, and the nine men were relaxing on land overlooking the Mashpee River that had been set aside for the recreation of a 17th-century tribal village and educational center.
During an interview with The Mashpee Enterprise several years ago, Mr. Hendricks recalled that he was pulled out of a car and placed in handcuffs and when he asked why he was being arrested, the officers told him there was a riot going on.
“There was no riot going on,” he said. “The drum had been put away, guys were sitting around the fire, some of the guys were asleep. There was no drinking, no partying. It was peaceful.”
The amount of force used to apprehend the men and their subsequent arrest on charges of disturbing the peace, along with the lingering question of whether such force would have been used on a group that was not composed of Native Americans, made the trial an event that was widely followed in the community and beyond.
The eventual ruling let the nine men go free of charges.
He leaves his mother, Flora Hendricks of Mashpee; two daughters, Skye Hendricks and Mariah Hendricks of Mashpee; five grandchildren; a brother, Myron E. Hendricks Jr. of Waquoit; a sister, Gail Hill of Mashpee; and extended family.
He was predeceased by his father, Myron E. Hendricks Sr.
Graveside service was private.
A celebration of his life will be planned for a later date.