Wuneekeesuq Nutawâm (Greetings to my Tribal Community),
Happy New Year! I pray that the Creator blesses you, your family and our tribal nation with good health and happiness in the coming year.
2011 was an exciting year for our Tribe, and I truly believe we are experiencing a “Wampanoag Renaissance.” Together, we made significant progress towards our goals. There is still much to do, and we must always strive to do better, but I would like to take time and highlight a few of our accomplishments over the past year.
Early in the year, our Tribe was recognized with the US Mint’s 2011 $1 coin, depicting the 1621 Wampanoag Treaty. This was important recognition of our history on a national stage. In addition, our Tribe had the honor of participating in Governor Patrick’s interfaith Inaugural service.
Throughout the year, we worked hard to secure funding for existing and new Tribal programs. I am very proud of the job our Development team did over the past year to secure much-needed funds for everything from housing, to fuel assistance, to tutoring, to sports activities for our youth. Especially exciting is the $200,000 in foundation funding our Tribe will receive for child care services.
We executed a first-class, good medicine Powwow. The three-day event was well attended, vibrant, and an opportunity for our Wampanoag culture to shine. We honored the late Alice Lopez with a celebration that I’m sure would have made her proud.
Alice’s legacy continues to live on through the housing development on Meetinghouse Road. While progress has not always been as swift as we would like, we broke ground on the water treatment portion of the project and we are moving forward with this important project, which will provide housing for Tribal members.
Our youth and our Education Department teamed up with UMass Boston to conduct the first-ever session of Native Tribal Scholars. I am so proud of what our young scholars were able to achieve over the summer session, and hope that even more students will participate in the program over the school year and in the summers to come. This effort to support our students to complete high school and go on to college is incredibly important and I thank all who have worked so hard to make it happen.
In order to better serve the many tribal members living in the Greater New Bedford area, the Tribe was proud to open a New Bedford satellite office. Tribal departments are providing services and meeting with citizens every day. Special thanks to the Helme family and other New Bedford-area Tribal members for helping Council pursue and make this goal a reality!
We are also very excited about the milestone toward building our Tribe’s community center. Funding through the USDA makes it possible for a planned groundbreaking in 2012. This facility will provide much needed community meeting space, offices for Tribal departments, services and cultural programs.
On November 22, Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation expanding gaming in Massachusetts, including a provision acknowledging the right of our Tribe to build a destination resort in southeastern Massachusetts. In the coming months, we will announce a location and get to work negotiating a compact with the Governor. This is a major step in our economic development strategy for our Tribe!
And last but not least, I was honored and thrilled to be a part of the Grand Opening of the Mashpee Wampanoag Health Services Unit. Being able to provide health services to our people is a major milestone for us as a sovereign government, and I am so proud of everyone who worked so hard to make this happen.
These milestones are just a few examples of what we can accomplish when we work together in a positive, constructive manner toward our goals. We have much more to do, and we will succeed!
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)