Cheenulka Pocknett hails from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Loocated about an hour southeast of Boston, Massachusetts, he enjoys his traditional life of hunting and fishing. Powwows play an important role in his journey as a Contemporary Men's Northern Traditional Dancer, which he shares with us in this heartfelt interview!
Interview by Dawn Karima, Native American Culture Editor
DK: I was so impressed when you visited with us on my show, A CONVERSATION WITH DAWN KARIMA, recently! When you described your philosophy of living as Native man today as “One Foot in a Shoe, One Foot in a Moccasin” , I knew you had more to share beyond our radio audience! How did you start dancing?
CP: First I would like to thank you for letting me share a little about my traditions. My parents David and Shelley Pocknett used to dance back in the 70's when it wasn't cool to be Indigenous. My family is a very traditional family, so my siblings and I all started out Traditional dancing. I enjoy dancing Northern Traditional so I stayed with it.
DK: We're glad you did! Before we go any farther, I want to ask you about your name! It's gorgeous!
CP:Thank you. My name in English translates to Big Deer. I am ‘6'6 so you could say I am a tall deer.
DK:Well, I'm almost six feet tall barefoot, so I think that is a GREAT thing…and a great name! And you have amazing regalia! Will you share with us some of its meaning?
CP: Thanks! My regalia is a representation of my family and my people. The blue in my beadwork represents the water that surrounds my people. We are called the the people of the salt marsh. The deer that you see on my beadwork represents me. I incorporated the sunburst because we believe we are the first ones to receive the blessings of the morning sun.
DK: We hear so much in popular culture about the Plains and the Southwest, and a lot of people don't realize that the Northeast Nations are still here and bravely survived being the first point of contact for so much colonization. It's an amazing legacy to carry on! How do you do that through powwows and in the rest of your daily life?
CP: I am a Contemporary Men's Northern Traditional Dancer at powwows. When I'm not on the PowWow trail, I am either in the woods hunting, or in the ocean fishing. I am from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We are located about an hour south east of Boston, Massachusetts.
DK: As you practice your culture and traditions throughout your days, what advice to have for youth who might like to celebrate their tribal heritage by entering the powwow arena?
CP:I would let them know that I doesn't matter how you look out there as long as you are dancing from the heart. I would tell them to be proud of who they are and where they came from.
DK: We thank you for sharing with us! What is the most prominent aspect that makes powwows powerful for you?
CP: The most powerful thing about PowWows to me is the bond I make with family and friends across Turtle Island. Thank you for listening!
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