Our Cross Country Trip – in pieces – Prologue


We recently drove across the country and back. We drove because I don’t like to fly (air sickness). We live on the Atlantic coast and we drove to Pacific coast and back. 6000 miles of hoopla, tiredness, awesomeness, and fun. I’m going to relate out adventures here and on my other blog – For All My Relations -I’ll write about the African-American and Indigenous Peoples that occupy/or once occupied each region or state that we visited.



My Headpiece

I beadstitched a headpiece to match my new regalia. While I have used lazy stitch in the past to bead (barrettes mainly), I’ve never used that stitch for something this big. I had a bit of trouble along the way – not enough beads in the colors I started with for one. Two – I didn’t have the technique down pat,  And, three, it took forever (in my mind).

A couple of years ago, I bought some beautiful cream and chocolate beads from a bead store in Salem, MA. I didn’t have a project in mind when I purchased them but they were so pretty and perfectly matched to each other that I had to have them. And of course, I had to use them for this project.

One of my favorite patterns is the vase pattern from my ancestors’ Nipmuc wood splint baskets.

photoI decided to use this design in my headpiece (also called a crown but I don’t really like that name.) I chose the colors of my regalia from a bead soup mix at Bead Fiesta in Sterling, MA. The bead soup combined turquoise, chocolate brown, cream, and copper. The combination called my name so I naturally bought cloth to match.

crown beginningI started with the cream and chocolate beads but quickly ran out of the cream.  I called the bead store in Salem but they didn’t sell those beads anymore. I really wanted to fill in the circle around the vase with those luscious cream beads. I tried every store -bead and craft- but no one had the exact bead. So I substituted with a close color.


Then, I ran out of the turquoise beads and ended up sending my daughter to Natick for the correct beads. The night before the pauwau, I edged the headpiece with the chocolate and prayed that no one would notice how uneven my beading was. I definitely need more practice with this type of beading. Here is the finished headpiece –

photo (2) and a side view –


So lessons learned?

1. Always make sure you have enough beads to complete a project.

2. Make sure you practiced a technique enough times to make a quality object. I was very disappointed in the way my headpiece turned out.  I felt sure that people would point out the flaws at the pauwau. Of course, no one did!!

Anyway, I think it will be awhile before I tackle another headpiece like this. Meanwhile I’ll keep practicing on barrettes and medallions.

Until next time–



Busy Beader

I was a busy little beader gearing up for pauwau season. I made a headband for a dear friend from size 8 delicas. My loom has interchangeable spring coils to accommodate different size/type  beads. This was the first time I’ve loomed with beads that large and I was happy to see how fast it went. Here are some pictures but I neglected to photograph the completed project. Duh!!!!

1787_10200154693449975_1800712087_nThe headband tells the story of our different Nipmuc communities coming together as one using ceremony as the uniting force – specifically the pipe ceremony.

photo (1) You can see the pipe in this picture. I alternated men and women for both sexes are equally important in our community. I also used two different color people, white and green, to symbolize different bands of Nipmucs.

The headband was gifted to our pipe carrier. The bowl of the pipe he carries was made from cumberlandite – a very special stone that exists in only one place on this earth, Cumberland, Rhode Island. Cumberland is within Nipmuc traditional territory. Imagine a stone that only exists here in Nipmuc country!! I wanted to add the stone in some way to the headband. Keep in mind that the pictures you are seeing are of my final design. I tried a few different designs before I settled on this one.

photoWe used my Dremel to cut, shape and polish the stone and set it at the center of our ‘community’. I’ve never told a story in beads before and I’m not quite sure if the headband’s recipient actually understands the message I tried to convey….but he is a good sport and wore the headband at the Hassanamisco pauwau.

I think I will continue to tell stories through my beadwork – well, at least I’ll try.




The Chief of the Nipmuc Nation and Hassanamisco Band of Nipmuc Indians recently retired. Per our constutution (and historic precedence), the retiring chief submitted the names of three individuals whom he felt could be his successor.  The Elders of the Nipmuc Nation choose our next chief from among those names.

Guess who?


At first I was resistant (please see my post from October 2012 here). But then, I thought about how disrespectful it would be to say “no.” Our Elders and Chief believe that I am the right person to lead our Nation. I also thought about the state our small Indian Nation is in and could I really desert my people at this time?

But I believe that to lead an entire people is an incredible responsibility. How can I possibly be capable of such a thing???

While I’ve had an incredible amount of support, I also have my detractors. Mainly those who wanted to be chief or have family members who they feel should be chief. And, of course, the tribal council has not been happy with the Elders’ outcome. Our last Strawberry Moon celebration was clouded by the negativity between the Elders and the council.

The official ceremony is on July 28th at the reservation. An old enemy of the Hassanamisco Band has already stated that he’s coming to claim “his” reservation at the pauwau, plus who knows what else will happen.

My hope is that we all vow to move forward together, that cooperation and communication will be our top priorities.  I ask that anyone reading this to pray for my people and their leadership.



The Powers that Be

Folks are wondering what’s going on with this Nipmuk Unity thing. Well, some think that’s it’s a sinister plot to overthrow the current band governments and form something new. Certain Nipmuc Nation tribal council members even stated that the new “tribe” or band would be based within the Hassanamisco Indian Museum (’cause that’s how all indigenous tribes are formed – within museums). Others are fearful that people are trying to change the spelling of Nipmuc/Nipmuck to Nipmuk which is something that they just wont tolerate. Is this all paranoia? Or reasonable restraint?

The Nipmuk Unity movement seeks cooperation between the bands, it desires interaction between enrolled and unenrolled Nipmuks, but mostly it cultivates the survival of our culture, language, stories, traditions, ceremonies, and people.

Drawing by Zara CiscoeBrough

This is not a bad thing but there are those whose minds cannot contemplate peace. There are those who are afraid that if more Nipmuks participate in tribal affairs then they will lose the power they now possess. There are those who still believe that the check is in the mail and they don’t intend to share it. There are those who believe they can control the rest of us.

I feel sorrow for those Nipmuks that criticize the efforts of others to work together. I feel sorrow for those that belittle the efforts of our children to learn what they can of our traditions. But they can’t stop us.

We are free, strong and able to withstand the negative energy heaped upon us these past 400 years. After all, We Are Nipmuk.

My Soul Knows You

My Heart stings, thinking of You

The pain is deep and soon forgettable

Buried beneath work and family

Time to move forward

Pushing through Rejection.


Thoughts drift toward you and

Are quickly brushed away

Like snow on my windshield

As I drive through the day.


At night it’s more difficult

As dreams turn to you

As I awake I push

Them aside and move

Forward away from You.