MASHPEE— The First Nations Development Institue of Longmont, Colorado has awarded the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe a $19,100 grant. This award will support the efforts of the tribe's project " We are the Seventh Generation."

The project is designed to help youth retain and perpetuate the cultural integrity of Wampanoag community values, through participation in seasonal-dictated activities and ceremonial gatherings. It leverages knowledge and skills of culture-keepers and elders, by fostering connections with youth, as they strengthen identity, assume responsibility, and develop pride.

“We very much appreciate the opportunity the First Nations Development Institute’s Native Youth and Culture Fund has provided,” said Roxanne Mills Brown, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Education Department Director. “The grant supports a dedicated focus on an age group often overlooked for specific inclusion in cultural activities."

Thirty Wampanoag youth, ages 10-14, will participate in a 12-month STEAM-based cultural project. STEAM represents the concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. STEAM activities foster children's curiosity, creativity, and learning as they try different things and explore the world around them. Youth will be identified from the tribal community of Mashpee, and five surrounding communities who have a significant number of tribal families residing.

“This is a great opportunity for us to carry on our traditional teachings to the next generation while preserving our culture for all Wampanoag people," said 26-year old Brian Weeden, who is the youngest Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Councilman.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our Tribal students, I applaud Roxanne and her team for spearheading this project,” said Cedric Cromwell, Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. “To foster interest and develop valuable skills in science, tech, arts and mathematics, all while balancing cultural components provides the essential tools for our youth to thrive and prosper in life for generations to come,” Cromwell added.

The Wampanoag Tribe issued the following statement:

"From the time of European colonists and missionaries in the early 1600s, Wampanoag families were prohibited from practicing traditional ways and coerced into acceptance of Christianity (Salisbury, 1992). Wampanoag people no longer had the freedom to speak their language or attend to what was important to them, resulting in the disruption of their worldview. Today our people continue to struggle, as intergenerational trauma has infused itself, and become a part of our very existence. Unremarkably, many of our traditions and inter-tribal relationships have sustained themselves within a generation whose age is approaching that of Social Security eligibility; leaving behind generations of younger tribal members who have little to no concept of traditional ways. These culture-keepers continue to take ceremony, and maintain the culture, for the Seventh Generation, those yet unborn; so they too may live with dignity, character, and pride; in being Mashpee."