Indian Day Celebration to be Held at Indian Township

Among the highlights of this year's Indian Day Celebration at Indian Township will be the unveiling of the Passamaquoddy Veteran's Monument. The ground breaking for the monument, shown here, took place on June 21st. (Photo from Indian Township Tribal Government)

By Lura Jackson

 

Every year the Passamaquoddy tribe celebrates its rich heritage and honors past and present community members with Indian Day. The event is held as two separate occasions: one in August at Sipayik (Pleasant Point), the traditional summer home of the tribe, and one in September at Motahkomikuk (Indian Township), being the place where the tribe would reside in the winter. After a successful and significant gathering in Sipayik last month, the tribe is preparing for an equally noteworthy occasion this weekend at Motahkomikuk, including the unveiling of the Passamaquoddy Veteran’s Monument and an event that reenacts the sharing of food with relatives isolated from their brethren as a result of infectious disease.

The proceedings begin with the departure of the Warrior Runners from Sipayik on Thursday morning. They will arrive in Motahkomikuk by the next morning to publicly present a medicine bundle in Muwin Park on Friday, September 21st at 9:30. Shortly afterwards, a canoe regalia will launch from Muwin Park to travel to Muwinuwi Monihk (Gordon’s Island) for a ceremonial event that organizers have titled Natahsomane Ntolonapemonuk, or “Let’s feed our relatives.”

In the past, members of the tribe lived all around Big Lake, including on Muwinuwi Monihk. The arrival of colonizing powers also meant the arrival of small pox, which, in tandem with other diseases to which the tribe had no resistance, reduced its population from 20,000 to 4,000. When the island-dwellers died, their relatives wanted them to be buried with their brethren on the mainland at Peter Dana Point, but they were prevented from doing so as a result of the infectious nature of the diseases. The island now bears the remains of tribal members of all ages. Friday’s event will reenact the feeding of tribal members isolated on the island and honor those buried there.

On Saturday, a lacrosse game to honor all veterans will be held at Sockabasin Field at 10 a.m. At noon, the Veteran’s Monument will be unveiled at the Tribal Office Grounds. Ground was ceremonially broken for the monument earlier this year on June 21st.

At 12:45, the grand entry of tribal leaders and community members, adorned in traditional dress, will take place at the Tribal Office Grounds. At 5 p.m. there will be a traditional wedding between Judy Lola and John Oliver. All are welcome to share in observing the special ceremony.

On Sunday, the final day of celebration, the grand entry will take place at 1 p.m. At 4 p.m., there will be a public potluck meal with some traditional foods included.

Throughout the weekend there will be a birch bark canoe exhibit on display, and tours of the Passamaquoddy Culture Museum will be offered on both Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Those wishing to admire the artisanship involved in creating traditional tribal crafts can do so with a selection of vendors that will have their goods available for sale and display on Saturday and Sunday. Food vendors will also be available.