#122026 - 12/06/0310:27 AMWampanoag Language Is No Longer
<br>Hundreds of Native Americans traveled from across New England to the Watuppa Wampanoag Reservation to celebrate the life of Clinton Neakeahamuck Wixon (Lightning Foot), who passed away Nov. 9 at the age of 72. <br><br>Known throughout the region as perhaps the last fluent speaker of the native Wampanoag language, Wixon<br>dedicated his life to educating Wampanoag and Ponkapoag youths about tribal traditions, culture and language. <br><br>He also kept Native American awareness alive by organizing Pow Wows and demonstrations throughout the state in towns such as Brockton, Lakeville, Middleboro, New Bedford, Taunton, Mashpee and on the Boston Common. <br><br>From sunrise to sunset Native Americans from various tribes, many dressed in full regalia, stood in a circle around a Vigil Fire that had been burning in Wixon’s honor for four days. Women stood on one side, men on the other, as they passed around a wooden talking pipe and each eulogized Wixon. <br><br>Later, his ashes were spread over the Watuppa Reservation and at Ponkapoag Indian Plantation in Canton, the homes of his beloved ancestors. <br><br>Wixon’s nephew, Darrel of the Nemasket Band, who led a procession of chants and drumming in his uncle’s<br>honor, called Wixon "a legend in his own time." <br><br>Darrel’s father, Wixon’s only brother, the late Clarence Wixon, Jr. (Chief Red Blanket), was proclaimed by<br>then-Gov. Michael Dukakis as "one of the greatest losses amongst the Native American community in the<br>last 50 years" following his 1990 death. <br><br>Wind Song, chief of the Assonet Band, said he and Wixon worked to clean up the Watuppa Reservation and<br>make it a place again for Native American services and celebrations. <br><br>"When this place was a dump, we cleaned it up," he recalled. "Now we have someplace for our ceremonies." <br><br>Born in Middleboro in 1931, Wixon was an 11th generation direct descendent of the powerful chieftain, Massasoit, the supreme sachem who befriended the Pilgrims in 1620. <br><br>After serving in the Korean War, Wixon founded perhaps the first modern day nonprofit Indian organization<br>in Massachusetts, the Algonquin Indian Association, anda few years later formed the United Indian Tribes<br>of America. During the 1960s Wixon joined forces with Indian tribes from Maine to Florida to form the Federated Eastern Indian League. <br><br>Wixon was also a strong voice behind the organization of the National Day of Mourning at Plymouth in 1970, which today is still a stage for Native American awareness and unity during the Thanksgiving holiday.<br><br>"He was well-respected in his community for always standing his ground with everyone about who he was and where he came from," said Maurice L. Foxx, representative of the state Commission on Indian Affairs. "It’s always tough to lose our elders because they are the ones who teach our culture and language." <br><br><br>
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