Excited for new traditions

Published 9:57 pm Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It probably didn’t look much like the first Thanksgiving — neither the one in Virginia nor the one that came later in Massachusetts — but there were plenty of thanks and a tasty meal to be had, nonetheless, during a special “ground-blessing ceremony” held by the Nansemond Indian Tribe on Saturday.

The tribe has much for which to be grateful this year. Members especially wanted to take an opportunity to give their thanks for and ask for blessings on the once and future Mattanock town.

The new Mattanock Town at Lone Star Lakes will be a place where people can learn about the Nansemond Indians within the context of a working community modeled on the one that existed there in the 17th century. It will be a place of pride for the tribe and for the city of Suffolk.

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But members of the tribe wanted to be sure to start their work on the project with an acknowledgment of their Creator and of His providence, so they set up the event that was held Saturday. “The purpose is to give thanks to Creator for putting the land here for us,” Chief Barry Bass. “I feel He’s responsible for putting us back here.”

Following tradition, guests abstained from alcohol for 48 hours before the event, shunned tribal regalia in favor of casual dress and socialized over traditional foods after the fireside ceremony.

Tribe members and their guests dined on chili and Three Sisters Stew — squash, corn and beans — ladled from huge pots over a fire, as well as smoked turkey and organic bread baked in a clay oven and topped with raw honey.

It was a fine, traditional meal, a fine way to start the project and a fine way to kick off the Thanksgiving season. Perhaps it will even be the beginning of a new Thanksgiving tradition by and for the tribe.

Mattanock Town should be a huge blessing for the tribe and for the city of Suffolk, and everyone in Suffolk can be thankful the tribe’s plans for the site are finally starting to come to fruition. Whether they’re Thanksgiving traditions or not, we join the rest of Suffolk in anticipation of the new customs that will rise up in connection with the site.