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Fresh from karate and ballet classes, children gathered around with open ears and eager hands as Annawon Weeden, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, brought traditional Native American dance and activities to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology on Saturday.
Children marveled at the Eastern Woodland culture, taking in the vibrant blue hues of the jewelry and the impressive size of the animal skins. Weeden, affiliated with both his mother’s native Mashpee Wapanoag community on Cape Cod and his father’s Narragansett origins in Charleston, Rhode Island, has a wealth of knowledge about the two communities to which he belongs.
RR: What are you making right now?
Kyle: A blue salmon.
RR: Are salmon normally blue?
Kyle: I think they’re salmon-colored.
RR: Right you are! Is that your favorite fish?
Kyle: No. Salmon taste funny, and they’re weird.
RR: So what’s your favorite fish?
Kyle: A Great White Shark!!!!!! [Grits teeth together.]
RR: Do you watch “Shark Week?”
Kyle: Does it look like I’m allowed to watch Shark Week?
RR: Well, you can almost get into a PG-13 movie.
Leila Rose, 11
RR: Would you want to be the Wampanoag Powwow Princess?
Leila Rose: What is that?
RR: She’s kind of like Miss USA in the Wampanoag tribe.
Leila Rose: Would I wear a crown?
RR: I would imagine so. I don’t know if it would have diamonds on it.
Leila Rose: Then no.
RR: What have you learned about Native Americans?
Alex: I’ve learned a couple things, like how they live, and what they used to make shelter, and what their culture is and what they would do for spirits and people who passed away.
RR: Wow, you’ve learned a lot. So what’s the coolest part of their culture?
Alex: They would live near rivers, where they can get fish and food, and near woods and trees and stuff so they can hunt for other animals to eat. But I would never live near the river because it’s dangerous because you don’t’ know if there are any other tribes. Maybe it’s their territory and stuff.
RR: Would you live in a teepee?
Alex: I live in one right now.
RR: Sure, you do.
Alex: I’m serious. I’m not going to take you to my backyard. But you can ask my dad. I have a tent there and made a fort with pillows.
RR: You know, I have made some pretty strong forts in my day.
Alex: Aren’t you like 30?
RR: Not quite.
RR: Nice corn husk doll. Did you name it?
Trevor: “It” is a “boy,” and he is not a doll.
RR: What is he then?
Trevor: A ninja.
RR: What’s his name?
RR: Do you know the name of the tribal chief of the Mashpee Wampanoag?
RR: His name is Silent Drum.
Chelsea: How can a drum be silent?
RR: If you don’t bang on it.
Chelsea: I guess. I wouldn’t name myself something so confusing.
RR: What would you name yourself?
Chelsea: Little Elephant.
RR: That’s like calling yourself ‘Jumbo Shrimp’
Chelsea: No, it’s not. I’m allergic to shellfish.
RR: Did you learn about the Wampanoag in school?
Liam: Not really. I learned about them from reading. I learned about other Indians from a TV show I watch.
RR: Which show?
Liam: “Deadliest Warrior.”
RR: I’ve never seen that. Or heard of it. And it sounds scary.
Liam: It sounds scary because you’re a girl. Basically the Comanches were fighting the Mongols. It showed how they used to make their weapons and how powerful they are.
RR: How would they make their weapons?
Liam: They would put a stick and a stone together and really sharpen them to make spears, and they would make tomahawks from stone.
RR: You know if you were in that tribe, you would learn how to make those weapons and develop your skills every day.
Liam: I know. I would rather do that than go to school.
RR: Wouldn’t you miss your friends?
—Staff writer Lauren A. Rubin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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