I can no longer say that I am shocked that my estimates in terms of attendance at the sessions were wrong, but I am pleased that the second event had even more people in the room than the first event at Worcester. Thanks to the gracious hospitality of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, we had 73 people attend and participate in the second listening session.
Also, the tribe hosted a social in which all were invited to participate and enjoy the drum, the food, and company of others interested in learning about the relationship between the state and Native Peoples residing in Massachusetts in the past as well as the present.
In addition to the Mashpee Wampanoag representatives (Ramona Peters, Jim Peters, Brian Weeden, and Doug Pocknett), we were fortunate to have a delegation from the Chappaquiddick Wampanoag Tribe (Alma Gordon, Penny Gamble-Williams, and Nicole Lach-Freeman).
What became very clear is that the issue of the Allotment of land at Mashpee and Chappaquiddick is still having very real impacts on individual Mashpee and Chappaquiddick tribal members and their communities as a whole. The loss of allotted land due to unpaid taxes is still occurring in the areas that used to be recognized by the state as Indian land unalienable for debts.
As with the Worcester event, some of the most poignant comments came from the youth, as they looked to the future, hoping to rebuild connections between Wampanoag Peoples and within their own communities. As the evaluations reflected, there is a strong desire to have a forum for these intertribal, multiple constituency discussions, and I am honored to be a part of making them happen.
The next session is planned for Thursday, November 5th at UMass-Amherst from 6PM to 8PM. The venue is the Events Hall, Room 160 (near the Roots Cafe) at the Commonwealth Honor College at 140 Hicks Way in Amherst. Hope to see you there!