The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe celebrated the town's first officially recognized Indigenous Peoples' Day on Monday. The town of Mashpee voted to recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day rather than Columbus Day earlier this year, and became the first town on the Cape to do so.
Tribe members and Mashpee residents gathered at the Mashpee Archives to invite the public to learn more about the Wampanoag tribe and its traditions.
"When I had drafted the article, I had told the town this would be a great example for us to lead the way," tribe member Brian Weeden said. Weeden brought forward the article in town meeting for the town to officially recognize the holiday. "What better town than Mashpee, the Indian plantation reservation, the little town on the Cape, to lead the way for others."
He said he decided to bring the article forward in part out of surprise that no one else had done so before. He also felt that given the current political climate, it would be important for people to stand in solidarity with native tribes like the Wampanoag.
"You show me a nation's monuments and who they worship and it says a lot about their people. In our nation, we highlight a lot of these people, Christopher Columbus, George Washington," Weeden said. "But we don't celebrate indigenous people that much, you know."
Other tribe members added that they hoped non-natives who attended the day's events could learn more about the Wampanoag tribe.
"This is our home, this is where we’re from. Our ancestors are here, they’re buried here, and it’s an opportunity to recognize our history and where we came from. And where we’re going, too," tribe member Rita Pocknett Gonsalves said.
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe are known as the “tribe of the first Thanksgiving,” as the tribe that first met the Pilgrims. Weeden said celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day was especially important this year, as the state would also be recognizing the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing in Massachusetts soon.