Crew Blog | Catherine Fuller: Wampanoags Across the Water

Catherine FullerWritten by Catherine Fuller

On Friday, July 1st, we sailed perhaps the shortest portion of our leg from Martha’s Vineyard to Woods Hole, being approximately 8 miles.  The departure ceremony was very moving, and it was obvious how much our visit had meant to Tobias Vanderhoop, the tribal chairman of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe.  The tears he shed that day were tears of gratitude for the inspiration we had given the tribe and the happiness at having acquired a whole new family of Hawaiians.  He expressed his profound thankfulness for our visit and for the good medicine it had brought his people.

Brianna Randolph and Uncle Snake on the hoe uli.

Brianna Randolph and Uncle Snake on the hoe uli.

Although Tobias himself was not able to accompany us to Woods Hole, we took four tribal members on board the canoe with us: Andrew DeVido, Yannick Gonsalves, Bettina Washington and Brianna Randolph.  Bettina is the tribal historic preservation officer for the Aquinnah, and Andrew was one of the young men who helped build and paddle the mishoon.  Beside the tribal representatives, our crew also included our hosts, and Martha’s Vineyard outreach coordinators, Sam Low and Nan Bacon.  Sam, having been a crewmember on previous voyages, was right at home with the steering and the lines.  The four Aquinnah enjoyed their taste of sailing, and the three younger guests all got involved with handling lines and steering.

Sam Low getting in on the sheet line action.

Sam Low getting in on the sheet line action.

Being blessed with good winds for departure, we made our way across the channel pretty quickly, and were able to enjoy a little extra sailing as we waited for our appointed arrival time.

We were greeted at Dyer Dock by the Mashpee Wampanoag leadership including Chief Vernon “Silent Drum” Lopez, as well as by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute president and director Mark Abbott.  Also taking part in the ceremony were children from the Neekun afterschool language program, which teaches youngsters to speak the Wampanoag language.  It was quite moving for our Aquinnah friends to come across the waters and greet their Mashpee cousins, and a treat for us as well.

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