by John Stratton
It’s a gathering of Tribes, venerating their traditions; it’s a gathering of people, celebrating their achievements.
The Mohegan Wigwam Festival, this year held on August 17 and 18, saw Tribes gather from across the country to convene on the sacred ground of Fort Shantok in Uncasville. Shantok, Village of Uncas, was a settlement of the Mohegan Tribe between 1636 and 1682 and the home of Uncas, the Mohegan leader and statesman.
Wigwam is also known as the “Green Corn Festival” and hearkens to harvesting traditions.
The days of traditional dance, music, and Native-made foods and crafts open with a noontime Grand Entry in which Natives march or dance into the tent together. For the Mohegan, the Veterans’ Association leads the way, followed by the Council of Elders, Tribal Council, older (55+) members of the tribe, and then the general population. Men’s and women’s dance competitions are aranged by age and dance format, such as Eastern War, Eastern Blanket, Northern Traditional, Southern Traditional, Jingle, Fancy, Grass, and Smoke.
At this year’s Grand Entry, opening remarks were offered by Chief Lynn Malerba “Many Hearts” and Bruce S. Bozsum “Two Dogs,” Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council. Saturday’s Wigwam event coincided with the Chief’s 60th birthday, who with characteristic good humor said that she is “rocking a new decade.”
The event is organized by the Tribe’s Cultural and Community Programs department on the third weekend of August, following a long-established tradition. The Tribe’s Council of Elders oversees Wigwam, as with all cultural-historical matters.
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