PPLT Receives Community Grant to Host Big Drum Powwow in Tiverton

The Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust (PPLT) received a Community Grant from the Rhode Island Foundation to host a Big Drum Powwow in Tiverton. The local community will be invited to the event in the hope of bringing Native and non-Native people closer together.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the state’s largest funder of RI nonprofit organizations. It was organized at the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Co. in June 1916 by a small group of prominent Rhode Islanders and was modeled after the first community foundation established in Cleveland two years earlier. The Foundation’s Community Grants program supports community-making efforts that make unique and important things happen at the intersection of people and places.

“We are grateful for the RI Foundation for supporting this endeavor and look forward to sharing our traditions with the community,” says Chief Sequan Pijaki, Chairman of the Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe of the Pokanoket Nation and founder of PPLT.

Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust Receives Island Foundation Environmental Grant

The Island Foundation has awarded the Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust (PPLT) an environmental grant for 2024. The funds will support general operating costs associated with important conservation work in Tiverton, Rhode Island. PPLT will be purchasing sixty-seven acres of ancestral lands in the spring. The majority of this land is historically significant wetlands, serving as an important site during King Phillip’s War. Upon completing the purchase, PPLT intends to create a management plan for Indigenous stewardship. If feasible, trails will be constructed for public access.

The Island Foundation, which was founded in 1979 by W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. and Mary H. Clark., awards Environmental Grants to a variety of initiatives in Southern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine, including those that support working landscapes (sustainable agriculture and community-based fisheries); help local conservation organizations build capacity; and promote environmental justice.

“I want to thank the Island Foundation for their support throughout the years … for funding our Indigenous Peoples Network and PPLT, and our Indigenous Roots Forever programs,” says Chief George Spring Buffalo, Executive Director of PPLT. “These programs provide food, health and the preservation of our culture in indigenous communities. Indigenous Roots Forever is about coming back home to our lands and sustaining the culture of our people.”


Paul Cuffe Day at Westport Elementary

In conjunction with the Westport Historical Society, Chief Two Running Elk of the Cuffe Clan of the Pocasset tribe celebrated Paul Cuffe Day with the students of Westport Elementary on January 17, 2024, Paul Cuffe’s birthday. Westport Elementary School in Westport, MA was the first racially integrated school in the United States. Paul Cuffe (1759-1817) was of African American and Native American descent, born on Cuttyhunk Island, and he later made his home in Westport. He was a Quaker who fought against slavery and sought out tolerance.

Chief Two Running Elk’s presentation included talk of his uncle’s life and the tribe, encouraging the students to be anything they want using his uncle as an example. He also spoke on the important of being kind, to have many friends all over the world, and to explore different cultures. In the days leading up to the Chief’s visit, students were taught lessons about Paul Cuffe. The program has been going on for 4 years.

Point32Health to partner with Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust on Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative

Point32Health Foundation has awarded the Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust a two-year grant to support the Indigenous Food Sovereignty work in Southern Rhode Island and Connecticut. Program activities include building backyard gardens for Indigenous families and then training the families in caring for the gardens using traditional practices. The initiative is the brainchild of Musquant Nompashim Netas, leader of the Ninigret Nehantic Nahaganset Clan and Chief Sequan Pijaki, Chairman of the Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe.

Point32Health Foundation works with communities to support, advocate and advance healthier lives for everyone, building upon a tradition of service and giving at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan.

“We are grateful for this new partnership with Point32Health and look forward to building a more equitable food system together,” says Chief Sequan Pijaki.

Nichols to Offer Financial Literacy for Farmers Through Partnership with Indigenous Nonprofit

Nichols College in Dudley has entered a partnership with Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust, an Indigenous-led nonprofit, to offer a farming financial literacy course for farmers across New England.

Funding for the partnership is part of a $524,040 National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to PPLT, received in 2022. The grant aims to build business acumen and financial literacy skills among farmers, as well as educate about soil health, according to a Monday press release from Nichols College.

The course will be taught by a Nichols accounting and finance professor, Karin Curran, who was involved with securing the grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the press release.

The course will run for seven weeks from January to February and will be free to all beginning farmers or Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) farmers. It will cover creating a balance sheet, building equity, and understanding the industry and will be taught on the Nichols campus, with a remote option and Spanish translation available.

PPLT Named 2023 New England Food Vision Prize Winner

Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust (RI), in collaboration with Open Farms Retreat, Cumberland School District, Roch’s Fresh Foods, and Northeast Organic Farmers Association/MA, was named a recipient of the 2023 New England Food Vision Prize by the Henry P. Kendall Foundation. The award consists of a two-year grant to create a direct farm-to-school pathway in Cumberland, Rhode Island. Funding will support new farm infrastructure and required certifications, beginning-farmer technical assistance and training, and school and community engagement efforts.

Launched by the Henry P. Kendall Foundation in 2018, the New England Food Vision Prize Program aims to increase the amount of local and regional food prepared and served on New England college and university campuses and within K-12 public school districts, helping to strengthen the region’s food system. The Prize program, offered annually, awards grants up to $200,000 to winning teams. Prizes are awarded to projects that build resilience, relationships, and capacity within New England’s academic institutional food supply chain, resulting in increased preparation, sourcing, serving, or use and consumption of local and regional food at K-12 schools and higher education institutions.

Mass Humanities Awards the Indigenous Peoples Network an Expand Massachusetts Stories Grant

The Indigenous Peoples Network has been selected as a grantee by the Expand Massachusetts Stories Initiative of the Massachusetts Humanities Foundation. The grant will fund “Black and Red: The Dilemma of African American-Indigenous Identity in Massachusetts,” a 30-minute film will explore the racial identity of African American-Indigenous members of the Pocasset Wampanoag of the Pokanoket Nation. It was among 42 grantees for cultural projects that include exhibits, documentaries, oral histories and public events. The film will be presented to community and educational members on the campus of Nichols College in Dudley, MA in fall 2024, with opportunity for public discussion. The project will be sponsored by the Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust.

Impressed with Mass Humanities’ commitment to an accurate and inclusive telling of Massachusetts history, Chief George Spring Buffalo a.k.a. Sequan Pijaki,-Yellow Feather, says “Indigenous people come in many shades,” and encourages all ethnicities to “educate themselves on what indigenous community you come from – don’t accept being put into a box because of your skin color.” The Expand Massachusetts Stories initiative offers up to $20,000 for projects that collect, interpret and share narratives about the commonwealth, with an emphasis on the voices and experiences that have gone unrecognized, or have been excluded from public conversation. Since its founding in 1974, Mass Humanities, a non-profit based in Northampton, has provided millions of dollars in support of thousands of humanities projects across the Commonwealth.


Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust to partner with NRCS to help New England farmers and communities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $70 million in partnerships that will improve outreach to underserved producers and communities to expand access to conservation assistance and career opportunities. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the selection of 139 projects that encourage participation in NRCS programs, especially in underserved communities and among urban and small-scale producers. Projects will extend outreach to producers who are beginning, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and veterans, and will highlight opportunities for students to pursue careers in agriculture, natural resources and related sciences.

The Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust program will focus on underserved producers and communities in New England. Objectives include conducting outreach and needs assessments, facilitating partnerships between NRCS and producers, helping producers improve operations through conservation and climate smart practices, and educating high school students about conservation and career opportunities.

Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust to partner with BankNewport for Indigenous Food Sovereignty program

BankNewport has awarded a grant to the Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust to support the Indigenous Roots Forever Food Sovereignty Program. The program is led by Chief Sequan Pijaki, Chairman of the Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe and Musquant Nompashim Netas, leader of the Ninigret Nehantic Nehaganset Clan.

Eastern Medicine Singers bring Indigenous music to the forefront at Newport Folk Festival

Daryl Jamieson and the Eastern Medicine Singers in full regalia

By Olivia Ebertz, Public Radio

On Friday, a Woonsocket and Providence-based Indigenous drum group helped kick off the Newport Folk Festival. The Eastern Medicine Singers aim to bring cultural healing and representation to audiences.

It was hot, humid and sunny at the 2023 Newport Folk Festival last Friday. To try to keep cool, most festival attendees wore as little clothing as possible. But at half past high noon on the festival mainstage the Eastern Medicine Singers, an inter-Tribal drum group from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, wore long deerskin pants trimmed with beads and fringe, cherry red ribbon shirts, feathered headdresses and face paint.

Bandleader and Woonsocket resident Daryl Black Eagle Jamieson is Pocasset Wampanoag from the Pokanoket Nation. He said repping traditional regalia from the region was worth the sweat, especially for the mostly white audiences in Newport.

“A lot of people expect to see a Native from like out West, so I think it’s important that we specify that this is an Eastern culture. This is our style of dress,” Jamieson said.

All that regalia is handmade by regional artisans.

“George Thomas, he’s Pequot, and he makes a lot of the accessories for us and the head dresses,” he said. “These ribbon shirts that we have, made by our good friend Birdie up in New Hampshire. And we all make our own different leggings.”

And equally important for showing Eastern Indigenous culture is the singing, which is all done in Algonquin, a language with just a few thousand native speakers. The band members all hail from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, making the music a refreshing burst of hyper-local flavor for festival goers.