Gale Courey Toensing
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe recently celebrated the opening of its new government and community center building.

Mashpee Wampanoags Celebrate New Government/Community Center

Gale Courey Toensing
4/15/14

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe celebrated the completion of its beautiful new government and community center building in Mashpee, Massachusetts by throwing a grand opening party for hundreds of its friends.

The event took place on the last Saturday in March, a cold and rainy day that didn’t at all dampen the spirit of the crowd that came to celebrate the tribe’s achievement.

“It’s truly amazing,” Mashpee Chairman Cedric Cromwell told Indian Country Today Media Network. “This government/community center is epic for the universe of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. It’s a hub for the well-being of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Not only is it a community center where the tribe will convene but the community’s going to come here and see their state-of-the-art world-class building where their programs and services are delivered by their tribal government. And it also brings our culture forward into the mainstream and, you know, if you’re not considered mainstream it’s mind over matter – you don’t matter so they don’t mind. Part of the mission I’ve been on is making sure we do matter so it’s a proud day for the Mashpee Wampanoag.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony began outside the front door of the huge new building with a welcome by Cromwell and an honor song by the Wakeby Lake Drum. The Drum lead a procession to a big white tent where the Lady Hawk Singers sang another honor song followed by prayers by Medicine Man Guy “Soaring Eagle” Cash and Mashpee Vice Chairwoman Jessie Little Doe Baird. Traditional Chief Vernon “Silent Drum” Lopez welcomed everyone and a massive lunch of clam chowder, turkey, side dishes and desserts was served to the hundreds of guests. There were countless speeches, acknowledgments, and gift giving and after lunch there were tours of the government/community center led by young tribal members.

The $12.7 million three-level building is approximately 46,000 square feet total. Funding was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which sent a delegation of people who has worked on the project to the celebration. “It’s great to see this wonderful progress. Some of us remember quite a few trailers here just short time ago,” Jay Healy, USDA’s regional director, said. “We’ve enjoyed working with a great team from the tribe. Hard work and perseverance made this possible and we just lent the money… Days like today make it all worth the effort and make us proud to work for USDA.”

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