Plymouth Wampanoags get $100,000 grant to help reclaim heritage

January 11, 2021

By Dave Kindy Wicked Local Plymouth

PLYMOUTH – It takes a lot of money to rebuild a culture decimated by the ravages of time and prejudice. Fortunately, the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe is getting the resources it needs to do just that.

The local Native American group was just awarded $100,000 from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to preserve, promote and protect its cultural, spiritual and economic well-being. The one-year operating support grant will be used to educate tribal youth and promote awareness with the public about history and rights.

The Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe of Plymouth received a $100,000 grant to preserve and protect its culture.

“This funding will enable us to reinvigorate and revitalize our efforts to restore our culture,” said Melissa Ferretti, chair of the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, which has its headquarters in Plymouth. “We plan to connect our youth to our traditions and to things that have been lost, including our language.”

Melissa Ferretti, chair of the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, will administer the $100,000 grant.

The state-recognized tribe is a member of Wampanoag Nation, a confederation of native people who have lived in the region for thousands of years. The Herring Pond Wampanoags call themselves “Plymouth’s tribe” and link their heritage back to the people who met the Pilgrims when they landed on these shores.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity and support we’ve received from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation,” Ferretti said. “Like tribal nations throughout the United States today, the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe still faces the destructive impacts of colonialism. As a native people who have retained our deep connection to our homeland, we are thrilled and honored to partner with an organization that appreciates and recognizes the valuable work that tribal nations are doing in our society today. “

The Nellie Mae grant is one of several made to underserved communities of color. Based in Quincy, the foundation is New England’s largest philanthropic organization focused solely on education. The institution is committed to advancing racial equity in public education.

“Our foundation is proud to stand up with and behind our partners at the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, a community at the heart of our region,” said Nicholas C. Donohue, Nellie Mae president and CEO. “We look forward to supporting their mission as they lead efforts to advance racial equity in education for youth and community members throughout the region.”

Ferretti said the grant will support the tribe’s long-term vision of sovereignty and self-determination while helping to build organizational capacity, support educational initiatives, preserve tribal community-based knowledge and promote tribal values.

“We don’t have much ancestral land now, but we hope to get some of it returned to us,” Ferretti stated. “We want to build a long house, sweat house and gardens, as well as expand our traditional knowledge of the land to include modern science and environmentalism.”

This is the second major grant presented to the Herring pond Wampanoag Tribe. Last year, it received a $156,000 award from the Sheehan Family Companies, which owns L. Knife & Sons in Kingston and other beer distributorships across the country.