Hmmm…What shall I write about?

There is so much going on in Nipmuc country right now. I can’t decide what to write about. Things are moving forward with the Museum restoration, the Museum has a new Strategic Plan that hopefully the committee will vote to accept, we are starting a new Language Class at the tribal office, ….plus some other stuff. And I am only thinking of what’s happening within the Hassanamisco Band. I have no idea what’s happening with the other Bands.

Ha! I do have a topic. Transparency. I am all for transparency within a group. I think its important for all members of a group to share and understand information so that all of us can make informed decisions. Especially when those decisions affect all members of the group.

I also believe that confidentiality is important. And in small, close-knit groups like a Band or clan, confidentiality is essential whether its family information or political discussion.

When in an effort to be “transparent”, a person betrays (yes, I feel that strongly) their Band by divulging confidential information to people outside of the group, well that person should no longer have access to confidential information. It doesn’t matter if it’s email, meeting minutes, financial records, grant info, or someone’s personal genealogy. Nor does it matter who was told.

All officer’s and employees of the Nipmuc Nation are supposed to sign confidentiality agreements. Those agreements should be honored. And even if agreements were not signed, where is your honor? Your integrity? Why violate the trust placed upon you by those who voted for you?

OK, so…enough preaching, time for a disclaimer. These comments are mine and mine alone. They are general statements and not intended to single out any one person. If someone feels like these comments may pertain to him/her, then they should search their own soul.

Aquene !

Sacred Paddle, October 30, 2010 (Part 1)

The Sacred Paddle was part of this year’s annual Deer Island Memorial. Organized by the Natick Nipmuc Council, each year there are activities to commemorate the forced removal of Native people from their homes to an internment camp on Deer Island. This happened on October 30, 1675 to the residents of the Natick Praying Plantation. Natives living in other English-style towns soon followed. All told, approximately 500 Christian Indians were incarcerated on the island without shelter and little supplies. Half of the prisoners perished on the island, their graves now marked by a sewage treatment plant.

The Sacred Paddle followed the route the Naticks took from Watertown (where they boarded boats for the harbor) to Deer Island. For the first time in perhaps a century or two,  three mishoonash, or dugouts, the traditional watercraft of the Nipmuc peoples, would travel down the Charles River and across Boston Harbor to Deer Island. A Penobscot War Canoe accompanied the mishoonash on the journey.

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Marcus Hendricks and Troy Philips (and part of Annawon Weeden) in one of the mishoonash on the Charles River.

I had a seat in the War Canoe. While I am certain that the fear I felt was nothing compared to my ancestors’ fears, I was pretty shaky. Once we were on the water, everything changed.

2010 Deer Island Memorial

Information courtesy of Pam Ellis, Natick Nipmuc Tribal Council

2010 Deer Island Memorial

Friday, October 29, 2010 & Saturday, October 30,  2010

October 30, 1675 marked the forced removal of American Indians from what is now South Natick to Deer Island in Boston Harbor, roughly two months after  the outbreak of what the English called “King Philip’s War. “ Without  adequate food, clothing, shelter or medicine, the majority of the people, mostly  women, children, and elders, perished during their imprisonment.

Some survived to return to Natick and the other Praying Towns and joined their relations who had fought and survived the military engagements of the war. Through this Memorial, we honor the sacrifice and survival of all of our ancestors.

Please feel free to join the program at any point along the way.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Sunset to

4:00 am Fasting, Prayer, Pipe Ceremony, Spirit Fire @ Hassanamisco Nipmuc Reservation , Grafton, MA


5:00 pm Spirit Fire

6:00 pm Prayer Circle and Pipe Ceremony conducted by Chief Natachaman, Walter Vickers


Donations of firewood and bottled water gratefully accepted. Please bring a chair and blanket. The fast will begin Friday at First Light – some will end the fast at First Light on Saturday. Others will continue to fast until the Community Meal at the Potluck Feast.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


5:00 am – 1:30 pm Sacred Run and Paddle


5:00 am Sacred Run from the Falls at S. Natick to Watertown boat ramp on Charles River Road


 The Sacred Run is twelve miles and will proceed along Route 16 to the boat ramp in Watertown on Charles River Road. Runners must provide their own transportation from Watertown.


8:00 am Sacred Paddle from Watertown to Deer Island


 The Sacred Paddle will proceed down the Charles River and through the Inner Harbor to Deer Island. Paddlers must provide their own canoes or kayaks and transportation from Deer Island.


1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Deer Island Prayer Circle and Pipe Ceremony


4:00 pm – 10:00 pm Potluck Feast & Social

Host Drum: Quabbin Lake Singers (Nipmuc)

MC: Larry Spotted Crow Mann (Nipmuc)

Location: Natick Elks, 99 Speen St., Natick MA 01760

 Please bring a potluck dish to share.




Hampton Inn

319 Speen Street

Natick, MA 01760

(508) 653-5000;jsessionid=S1IXEW4XRFR2WCSGBJT3EWQ?ctyhocn=BOSNTHX&WT.mc_id=1HX2RE3Hotel4OneTagSol 


Red Roof Inn

650 Cochituate Road

Framingham, MA 01701

(508) 872-4499


1350 Worcster Road

Rt 9

Natick, MA 01760

(508) 655-2222

57th Annual Hassanamesit Indian Fair

The Fair (or Powwow as some call it) was held on the last Sunday of July on the reservation.  Our Fair tends to be small and casual, no paid Head Dancers, no prize money for best dancers – just family, friends, and some tourists.

Here are some pictures taken at the Fair by Nia Holley:




Homestead Restoration To Start August 2010

Built in 1801 for Hassanamisco Nipmuc Lucy Gimby, the Cisco Homestead serves as the largest artifact in the Museum’s material culture collection. It also housed the rest of the Museum’s collection from 1962 until the building closed for repairs in 2006.

Stabilization of the structure will begin after this year’s Indian Fair on the Hassanamesit Reservation (Rez) (Sunday, July 25th!!!). Plans for restoration include returning the original 1801 room to that time period as well as the other historic parts of the Homestead. This means that different rooms will be restored to different time periods. Visitors to the museum will be able to follow the evolution of the Homestead from 1801 to the 1960s.


                  The Cisco Homestead on Hassanamesit.

The Rez itself represents the only land in Massachusetts that has been continually occupied exclusively by Native people. The 3.5 acre site is what remains of the division of Hassanamesit (later the town of Grafton) into lots for the Nipmucs that already lived there and the English settlers that desired the land in 1728.

Now for a little genealogy

1. Moses Printer b. bef. 1665 in Hassanamesit, d. abt. 1727 in Hassanamesit m. abt. 1719 to Mary b. abt 1675 in Natick, d. Feb. 1759 in Grafton, Massachusetts Bay Colony.

2. Sarah Printer b. abt. 1718 in Hassanamesit, d. 1771 in Grafton, MA m. abt. 1733 to Peter Lawrence b. abt. 1693 in Hassanamesit, d. bef. 1771 in Grafton.

3. Patience Lawrence b. abt. 1745 in Grafton, MA Bay, d. 1794 in Grafton, MA m. abt. 1766 to Ceasar Gimby b. abt. 1730, d. 1795 in Grafton MA.

4. Lucy Gimby b. abt. 1769 in Grafton, MA Bay, d. 18 Mar 1843 in, Grafton, MA (1) m. abt. 1787 to Harry Arnold b. abt. 1765 in Smithfield, RI, d. bef. 1790 in RI (2) m. 22 Sep 1791 in Grafton, MA to Monday Hector b. in Holland , MA, d. abt. 1824 in S. Brimfield, MA.

The above genealogical information is from the Nipmuc Nation Research Office.

Lucy had one son from each of her husbands. Her younger son, John Hector married Susannah Toney and eventually sold his share of the reservation and moved to nearby Worcester, MA. His descendants today include some of the the Carruthers, Walkers, and Browns. Lucy’s eldest son, Harry Arnold, and his descendants, the Ciscos, remained on the reservation and living in a part of the Homestead until 2006.


                            Ciscos and others c. 1930.

Start Your Own Business

On June 3rd of this year, the Nipmuc Nation hosted a “Getting Started in Business” seminar. The MA Small Business Development Center (MSBDC) at UMass Boston presented the workshop. The Institute for New England Native American Studies (INENAS) co-sponsored the seminar. Mark Allio from the SBDC led the group of mostly Nipmucs through steps to becoming an entrepreneur. Mark emphasized “the Big Picture” in his lecture. Factors such as the economy, the business owner’s skills and lifestyle, finances, and business organization all contribute to the success or failure of a small business.

The MSBDC has 8 Network Centers and 42 Outreach Sites in Massachusetts. The MSBDC Network Center in Nipmuc Country is located at Clark University in Worcester. The staff at MSBDC will assist business owners and potential business owners with creating business and marketing plans, financing, and other business counseling services. The central Mass office’s contact information is below.

Central Regional Office
Clark University
125 Woodland Street
Carriage House, First Floor Right
Worcester, MA 01610

Tel: 508-793-7615
Fax: 508-793-8890

For those of you who live outside of Nipmuc Country, the MSBDC Network website can help you find an office near you –

Recessions can be a great time to start your own business. If you have thought about it and want to see if its the right path for you, check out what the MSBDC has to offer.



Gotta Begin Sometime

I started this blog on the Hassanamisco Museum website to promote the Museum, Nipmuc Indian history and Nipmuc genealogy. But I haven’t done a thing. So in this so-called new year (for Natives hereabout, the new year doesn’t start until Spring), I will do better to promote the Museum anyway I can, to write grants til I cant write anymore, and to focus on ways to honor my ancestors by preserving their culture.

Take note of this picture


My grandsons – the future of the Nipmuc people. They attend powwows and ceremonies, wear regalia, and accompany their ”Grama Cheryll” everywhere she goes. They will grow up knowing what I know about our people. But their cousins, whose parents don’t attend events regularly, don’t have that same advantage. How can we fix this? The fewer of us who know and practice and keep traditions going, the more likely it will be that our culture will disappear. The feds already think we don’t exist (although they forgot to tell my grandparents that). Lets not legitimize what the feds think (or were paid to decide – but that’s another blog). Let us as Nipmuc people honor our ancestors, ourselves, and the next seven generations by working together for our future.

See ya and AQUENE !

Introducing Unnai

Hi there! This a new blog from the Hassanamisco Indian Museum. It will speak to news from Nipmuc country, report on new research and genealogy pertaining to Nipmucs and anything else I as the writer find interesting.

My name is Cheryll Toney Holley and I am a Nipmuc from Worcester, Massachusetts.  I am a member of the Nipmuc Nation, a state-recognized Indian tribe in MA where I currently serve as both head of Genealogy and Director of Museum Programs.

I love my people and my ancestors and try to honor them both.


Unnai is the Nipmuc word for Truth.

Truth is what I hope you all will find in this blog (except when I’m writing fiction, of course).

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