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For Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, powwow 'a big family reunion'

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

Pawâw is dedicated to the late Chief Silent Drum, who died in April. The celebration of healing and strength runs July 1-3 and will feature drumming and dancing.

Thousands of tribal members from around the country are expected to travel to the 102nd Mashpee Wampanoag powwow, which begins Saturday and runs through Monday.

The gathering is open to the public and will mark the first in 25 years to feature a new chief, Earl “Swift Eagle” Mills Jr., as master of ceremonies. Swift Eagle was raised as the tribe's chief after Vernon “Silent Drum” Lopez died at age 100 in April. He had served since 1998.

Swift Eagle is the first chief elected under the tribe's constitution, established in 2007 when the tribe received federal recognition.

"It's definitely a new day and age for the tribe," Mashpee Wampanoag tribe chairman Brian Weeden told Morning Edition's Patrick Flanary.

"It's great to honor our past leadership while incorporating our new traditional leadership as well. It's great to have everyone fly in and be home—kind of like a big family reunion. I think that it speaks to our resilience and our strength as a people and as a nation to really bring everyone together."

Listen to their conversation about what families can expect at this year's powwow by clicking the button above.

Patrick Flanary is a dad, journalist, and host of Morning Edition.