‘Golden Dragonfly’ becomes first Wampanoag woman on Bourne Select Board

May 18, 2022


BOURNE — In the May 17 town election, three women were elected to the Select Board, making it the first select board in town with a majority of female members.

One of those women is Melissa Ann Ferretti, likely to be the first-ever Wampanoag woman to be elected to the Bourne board.

Indigenous peoples need to find a way to move forward despite the historical trauma that they have faced, said Ferretti, whose tribal name is Golden Dragonfly. Part of that is done by having a seat at the table, she said. 

Ferretti received 1,109 votes in her victory, but this isn’t the first time she has held office, having served as the chairwoman of the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe since 2018. She’s also the first woman to chair the tribal organization and is currently serving her third two-year term. 

Bourne Select Board member Melissa Ann Ferretti outside Bourne Town Hall. Ferretti, who was elected on May 17, is believed to be the first Wampanoag on the board. Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times

The town clerk’s office couldn’t confirm if Ferretti is the first-ever Wampanoag person to be elected to the board but it is likely, she said.

Ferretti has Cape Cod roots

Ferretti was born in Wareham and raised in Bournedale and Cedarville. The main authority figure in her life was her father’s aunt, Verna, an elder in the tribe who raised her. She moved to New Hampshire for a year for work, but grew homesick and returned to the Cape.  

“I really ached to find a way to get back. This is where I belong,” she said. 

Ferretti is a licensed real estate agent and has a background in administration and operations management. As a chairwoman for the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, part of her job was working with the town of Plymouth to push for Indigenous rights. 

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One of her proudest accomplishments as chairwoman is helping secure a 6-acre parcel that she says was the first time the town of Plymouth returned land to the tribe. The land includes an ancient burial ground, Ferretti said. The Tribe hopes to continue to secure more land and protect sacred sites and natural resources, such as the pine barrens. 

Ferretti’s dealing with Plymouth introduced her to the political sphere, which she found rewarding. That, in part, inspired her to run for Bourne Select Board, where she has been a resident for 35 years. 

“All of this work that I had done in Plymouth…I thought it was really time that I did this work here in Bourne,” she said, “and when I saw that there was a select board seat opening up, it just seemed right.” 

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She also hopes her election inspires other people who may not be familiar with politics to run for office, since she believes there aren’t enough well-intentioned “regular citizens” in politics.  

Ferretti plans to work on several issues, such as veterans and elder services and substance abuse, as well as any problems tied to replacing the canal bridges.

Elder services are particularly special to Ferretti since she was raised by an elder in her tribe, she said. Ferretti credits her work ethic to the values instilled in her by her father’s aunt. 

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Verna was one of the first women to work alongside men in the Quincy Shipyard, and family lore has it she was able to outwork three men, according to Ferretti. 

She considers her election an opportunity for people to see the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe in a new light. 

“We’re removed from the narrative quite often,” said Ferretti, in reference to the notion that the Herring Pond Tribe isn’t talked about as much as some of its sister Wampanoag tribes.