Representing in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Wampanoag Elders Provide a Blessing and Land Acknowledgement
- By Native News Online Staff
This story originally ran on Thanksgiving Day 2021. Millions of viewers who tuned in today to watch the 2021 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade were treated with a blessing by Mashpee Wampanoag tribal elders Carolyn Wynne (Otter Clan) and Siobhan Brown, who acknowledged the Lenape territory of Manahatta.
The blessing, which was written and shared with us by members of the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project, (WLRP.org) will air exclusively in the Wampanoag language, but translates in English to the following: “Creator and Ancestors, we honor you for all things. We honor the Lenape people of Manahatta and all our relations. Now we are here; and will always be here. And so it is.”
Portions of the performance were spoken in Wôpanâôt8âôk, the language of the Wampanoag People.
Positioned behind the two elders for television cameras were Wampanoag Nation singers and dancers who gifted viewer with a performance of a song known to the tribe as the Calumet, which connects the four directions and honors all relations.
Among the singers and dancers were 2021 Wampanoag Princess Dasia Peters, Cheenulka Pocknett, David Pocknett, Gertrude “Kitty” Hendricks-Miller, Hartman Deetz, John Peters, Talia Landry.
The musical arrangement was by Ty Defoe (Oneida/Ojibwe).
Today’s appearance was the second year of collaboration between Indigenous Direction and the creative team behind the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
The Wampanoag Tribe, also known as The People of the First Light, have inhabited the Eastern coast of present-day Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years. In the centuries following first contact with colonizing settlers, forced assimilation silenced the Wampanoag language for over 150 years. However, through historical written documents by Wampanoag people, language and culture are again thriving today on this Indigenous land.
Indigenous Direction co-founders Larissa FastHorse (Sicangu Lakota) and Ty Defoe (Oneida and Ojibwe) work hard to provide culturally appropriate music and dances that have been part of this continent for centuries. Rounding out the team, Associate Consultant for Indigenous Direction and Project Manager: Jamelyn Ebelacker (Santa Clara Pueblo), and Community Liaison, Siobhan Brown (Wampanoag).
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