Native American Heritage Month: Spotlight on Troy Currence

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November is Native American Heritage Month—a time to celebrate Native American heritage and pause in thankful reflection for our diverse community and the countless contributions of Native peoples past and present. 

 

In celebration of this special month, we are highlighting Troy Currence, an Information Technology Specialist with the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center and a valued member of the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe. 

“My name is Neesweekokotywak (Two Crows) aka Troy Currence. I am a medicine person (Paw Waw, lifetime appointment) Traditional Tribal Leader for the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe as part of the Wampanoag Nation. I was born in Bitburgh, Germany and grew up overseas in England, Spain, Panama, etc. I have also traveled throughout the 48 of the 50 states and Canada. I am a single father to Waapumeequan (Rising Feather) aka Kendall Currence. She is the captain of the Northeastern University Women’s Basketball Team and is creating her own brand of athletic wear. I raised her as a young traditional Wampanoag woman and helped train her as a basketball player. She was born with a cleft lip and palate and had four holes in her heart. 

Waapumeequan (Rising Feather) and Neesweekokotywak (Two Crows)

 Waapumeequan (Rising Feather) and Neesweekokotywak (Two Crows), otherwise known as Kendall Currence and Troy Currence

Native American man in traditional native american clothing

Neesweekokotywak (Two Crows) aka Troy Currence at the 2021 Wampanoag Powow Day

(Public domain.)

My tribal community of Herring Pond is one of the last 69 pre-contact Wampanoag tribes that still sits on our ancestral homelands. I sit on the Wampanoag Advisory Committee that advises and collaborates with the Plymouth 400 Committee. Some events that we worked on together include a virtual ancestors walk and tour of the Wampanoag Homelands in three communities—Herring Pond, Mashpee, and Aquinnah—to honor the ones before us and how we still live and breathe because of their sacrifices; the Wampanoag Ancestor Quilt Project; an event where the Pilgrim descendants and us, the Wampanoags, finally acknowledge the Great Dying, this was the first time it was ever acknowledged by the Pilgrims or anyone other than us; and also mariner days down near the waterfront with regular boats and mishoons, which is a traditional eastern native boat used for transportation. 

I also provided input throughout the Mayflower 400th Anniversary 24K Gold Coin and Silver Medal Program design development process to ensure the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s landing was communicated in a way that appropriately recognized the historic contributions of the Wampanoag. I’m also a member of the Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers who use native songs and dances for educational purposes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2z1QEtP9V8). Additionally, I sit on two other tribal big pow wow drums, "Herring Pond River Singers" and the "Eastern Suns," and used to be the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project Vice-Chair.” 

Native American man wearing traditional Native American clothing kneeling on the ground

Troy doing a traditional Wampanoag dance at the 2021 Wampanoag Powow Day at Aptucxet

Troy is very active in his tribal community. He and other members of his family have been interviewed by various media and organizations throughout the years to educate others on their heritage and provide their perspective on different issues and growing up in America. Recently, Troy and cousins from the Mashpee Tribe, as part of the Wampanoag Nation were invited to the Bassetlaw Museum and Pilgrims Gallery in Retford, England to provide a cultural exchange as part of the Wampanoag Perspective project being led by the Bassetlaw District Council. Troy and the others participated in a series of events and activities, including cultural showcases and question and answer seminars. They also built a traditional house, called a Wetu on the property. 

We feel extremely fortunate to work alongside him and learn from his unique perspective. 

Man standing on a ladder in an underground structure

Neesweekokotywak (Two Crows) aka Troy Currence in the Wetu he and other Wampanoag Tribal members built in Bassetlaw Museum and Pilgrims Gallery in Retford, England