FALMOUTH – The Mashpee Wampanoag celebrate their 93rd Annual Powwow this weekend at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds on Route 151 in Falmouth.
Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell explained this year’s theme for the event, Honoring Our Waterways.
“Waterways are so important to us from a sustenance, travel, trade. It’s part of the circle of life. It’s helped us to continue to be who we are when we talk about shellfishing, fishing in general,” he said.
Besides tradition, the event is really about cultural exchange, he said.
“Many people that have not been to a Powwow, they come to a Mashpee Wampanoag Powwow and the general feeling is like, ‘Wow, what is it that I felt.’ What they’re feeling is our spirit. They’re feeling our medicine, our energy. There are able to walk away and leave with a taste of who we are, how we express ourselves,” he said.
Cromwell spoke of the drums as emblematic of the event. “The sounds, the chanting, the words, voices and lyrics are so important. Just getting out and drumming and expressing the heartbeat of Mother Earth,” he said.
There are a number of dances and songs that are a part of the event. Cromwell listed many of them: stomp dances, smoke dances, round dances, the pipe song, the mosquito dance, jingle style and fancy style.
What the Native Americans wear at the event is called “regalia” and visitors will see various Native American tribes from across the country in different clothing particular to their tribe.
The grand entry, which happens each day at 1 p.m. is when all of the participants parade into the fairgrounds in their individual regalia. Another grand entry is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, July 4.
On July 5 at dusk is Fire Ball, a kind of soccer game using a ball and real fire. It is considered a healing ceremony for warriors of the tribe, Cromwell said.
Jessie “Little Doe” Baird, the vice chair of the tribal council, said the event is an old tradition for the tribe.
“For 93 years we’ve been opening Powwow to the public but it’s a tradition that is as old as Wampanoag people themselves,” she said.
The Powwow takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., rain or shine.