Now that we are federal tribe number 565 (as of October 1, 2010), our upcoming 65th Annual Powwow that takes place every Labor Day weekend is shaping up as a celebration of that important milestone. We’ve come a long way.
Some people say we were here in these parts for over 10,000 years. Others think that’s nonsense; we’ve been here since Great Turtle arose from the sea, and that was as long ago as forever.
In either case, longevity is a legacy belonging to us. We continue and we grow from the very first earth of Eastern Long Island. Patience is another. We’re still here. We managed to survive traders and warring tribes, and we learned to co-exist with settlers who arrived some 400 years ago. Throughout the centuries, we’ve managed to build our own infrastructure that includes a , school, community center, health center and . And we have a few more planned and prior to being federally acknowledged, including an early learning/daycare center.
So the 32 years it took the Bureau of Indian Affairs to wade through its own bureaucracy and decide we do indeed exist is no time at all, just another milestone in our long walk through time and local history.
In this upcoming celebration, the Powwow Committee plans to start with thank yous to our local community neighbors, past and present elected officials from village to federal level, our brother and sister tribes from Long Island, and those tribes from New England and around the country that supported us throughout the years.
The other component of this powwow is to honor ourselves, the Shinnecock, the People of the Stony Shore, beginning with our elders. Expect greetings from Council of Elders co-chairs Ed Garrett and James W. Eleazer Jr. In past years we’ve had an honorary powwow chief, starting with the late Henry Bess, Chief Thunder Bird and most recently, with Harry K. Williams, Chief War Hawk. Uncle Harry, as many of us call him, is ailing. So this year, the Powwow Committee commandeered tribal leadership, and for the first time we will have three honorary powwow chiefs comprised of : Chairman Randy King, Trustee Gerrod Smith and Trustee Fred Bess.
The Host Drum selected this year is the predominately Shinnecock drumming group, Youngblood Singers; master of ceremonies and arena director are Shinnecock’s Charlie Smith and Eric Phillips, respectively, and Shinnecock entertainers will include and Matthew Hunter, who has his own band. Finally, for now, at least, the powwow program will include cover and inside artwork by Shinnecock artist David Bunn Martine, who is also the curator and director of the .
Pulling together, we hope to make this powwow one of our finest.
We move on. We move together (Mamoweenene).