story & photos
by Alexis Ann
The Mohegan Wigwam Festival was held on August 16 and 17 and saw Tribes gather from across the country to dance on the sacred ground of Fort Shantok in Uncasville. Shantok, Village of Uncas, was the principal settlement of the Mohegan Tribe between 1636 and 1682 and the sacred ground of Uncas, the Mohegan leader and statesman. The event is organized by the Tribe’s Cultural and Community Programs department on the third weekend of August, following a long-established tradition.
Wigwam, also known as the “Green Corn Festival” emulates harvesting traditions. The days of traditional dance, music and Native-made foods and crafts opened with a noontime Grand Entry in which Natives from across the United States danced into the tent together. For the Mohegans, the Veterans’ Association leads the way, followed by the Council of Elders, Tribal Council and general population. This year, all Veterans in attendance were invited to gather in the circle.
Men’s and women’s dance competitions are arranged by age and dance format, such as Eastern War, Eastern Blanket, Northern Traditional, Southern Traditional, Jingle, Fancy, Grass and Smoke.
The Blessing was offered by Chief Lynn “Many Hearts” Malerba and opening welcome by Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council Kevin “Red Eagle” Brown.
Chief Lynn thanked all for traveling to celebrate Native traditional ways. “May we never forget the teachings of our ancestors and may we honor them whenever we are all gathered together.”