Controversy at sacred Native American ceremony
Warren, R.I. —
Tension at a sacred ceremony between members of Native American tribes.
On Saturday, the Wampanoag Repatriation Confederation hosted a ceremony at Burrs Hill Park in Warren. The remains of an ancient leader, known as the Wampanoag Massasoit, were just returned to their original burial site in the park overlooking Narragansett Bay. Wampanoag Repatriation Confederation organizers said they've been working to recover the remains over the last 20 years from museums and other institutions.
According to organizers, 150 Mashpee Wampanoag tribe members attended Saturday's ceremony along with officials from the town of Warren. The occasion was very spiritual, but there was also controversy.
Members of the Pokanoket tribe, another Native American tribe, claim to be direct descendants of the Massasoit and also claim they were "blocked" from participating in Saturday's ceremony. Pokanoket tribe members showed up at the event with signs and voiced their frustration regarding the way the ceremony was handled. A shouting match between members of different tribes broke out and eventually police separated people.
Mashpee Wampanoag leaders told NBC 10 Pokanoket tribe members were welcome at the event. Pokanoket tribe leaders plan to hold their own ceremony at a later date.