Nipmuc Indians Honor The Sacrifice of Their Ancestors During King Philip's War

New England Indians Observe Solemn Anniversary with Sacred Run and Paddle to Deer Island

South Natick, Massachusetts October 2010

On Saturday, October 30, 2010, Nipmuc Indians will observe the anniversary of the forced removal of their ancestors from the historic Natick Praying Indian Town to internment on Deer Island in Boston Harbor in October 1675.  New England Indians and supporters will travel the historic path of the forced removal as a 12-mile "Sacred Run" and 20-mile "Sacred Paddle" along the Charles River and through Boston Harbor to Deer Island.  About 500 indigenous people, mostly Nipmuc women, children, and elders were imprisoned on Deer Island after the outbreak of King Philip's War in 1675.  Without food, shelter, clothing or medicine, more than half perished.

With the support of Plimoth Plantation's Wampanoag Indigenous Program (WIP), this year's Sacred Paddle will include three members of the WIP staff, all members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and mishoons, the traditional dugout vessels, used by the indigenous people of the region, like the Nipmuc and Wampanoag, to travel the waterways.  "We are honored to have the participation of Plimoth Plantation's Wampanoag Indigenous Program in the sacred paddle, " said Nipmuc Sachem Mary Anne Hendricks.  "The mishoons which will be paddled by WIP staff, Mashpee Wampanoags, and Nipmucs are two of 30 mishoons produced by WIP since 1985 using 17th century tools and techniques.  The Nipmuc organizers of the sacred paddle estimate that it has likely been more than 200 years since mishoons have made their way down the Charles River to the sea. 

Gedakina, a Native non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the cultural knowledge and identity of Eastern First Nations people is supporting the participation of runners and paddlers from the Abenaki, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes from northern New England and the inclusion of two war canoes for the Sacred Paddle.   "Deer Island is an important story that needs to be told, which many Native people from across the continent haven't heard, but should. The sacred run and paddle will honor the sacrifices of the people taken to Deer Island - those who perished, as well as those who survived to carry forth their tradition and culture," said Rick Pouliot (Abenaki), Executive Director of Gedakina.  Nipmucs also fled north to take refuge with neighboring tribes.  "Our participation reflects the inter-nation alliances that existed before and during King Philip's War and which continue today," said Pouliot, referring to the indigenous nations of New England.

The Sacred Run and Paddle are part of a series of events planned to commemorate the October 30th anniversary of the Nipmuc internment on Deer Island.   The Sacred Run begins at 5:00 am in South Natick and ends at the boat ramp on Nonantum Road in Brighton.  At 8:00 am, the Sacred Paddle will begin at the boat ramp and will end at Deer Island at 1:00 pm followed by a memorial ceremony at MWRA, 100 Taft Avenue in Winthrop, MA.   The Deer Island Memorial began in 1992 and has expanded to become an intertribal event, which honors the survival and sacrifice of all the indigenous peoples in what is today called "Massachusetts" during King Philip's War.  The events organizers welcome public support of the paddlers and runners along the historic routes and public attendance at the memorial ceremony in Winthrop.   

For additional information concerning the memorial events and for further information regarding the schedule or directions, please call Mary Anne Hendricks (617) 328-4899.

2010 Deer Island Memorial - Friday, October 29, 2010 & Saturday, October 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

5:00 PM Opening Ceremony and Spirit Fire - Hassanamisco Nipmuc Reservation , Grafton, MA

Saturday, October 30, 2010

5:00AM Sacred Run from the Falls at S. Natick to Watertown boat ramp on Charles River Road.  The Sacred Run is twelve miles and will proceed along Route 16 to the boat ramp in Watertown on Charles River Road.  

8:00AM Sacred Paddle from Watertown to Deer Island. The Sacred Paddle will proceed down the Charles River and through the Inner Harbor to Deer Island.  

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM   Deer Island Memorial Ceremony - Waterfront Pathway Deer Island, Massachusetts.      

4:00 PM - 10:00 PM   Potluck Feast & Social        Natick Elks, 99 Speen St., Natick MA

This years Deer Island Memorial is being sponsored by the Natick Nipmuc Council of Indians, Nipmuck Nashauonk, Plimoth Plantation's Wampanoag Indigenous Program (WIP and Gedakina.