Pokanokets initiate two warriors in ancient tradition

This is the first time Walk of Pineese has been held in 10 years

By Ted Hayes
Posted 8/15/19

Pokanoket Nation tribal members initiated two spiritual warriors recently, as the tribe held a centuries-old Pokanoket tradition in Bristol that hadn’t been practiced in 10 years.

Initiates …

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Pokanokets initiate two warriors in ancient tradition

This is the first time Walk of Pineese has been held in 10 years

Posted

Pokanoket Nation tribal members initiated two spiritual warriors recently, as the tribe held a centuries-old Pokanoket tradition in Bristol that hadn’t been practiced in 10 years.

Initiates Winding River and Winter Hawk, who hail from the Pokanoket's historic Sowams area of Barrington, Bristol and Warren, took the traditional “Walk of Pineese,” a several-day retreat at Potumtuk (Mt. Hope) in Bristol, prior to their indoctrination as Warriors of Pineese.

“This is something that’s unique to our tribe,” said Pokanoket Sagamore Po Wauipi Neimpaug (Winds of Thunder). “No other tribe in the country does this.”

The Warriors of Pineese are spiritual guardians of the tribe, and their existence dates back to the earliest history of the Pokanokets here in southeastern New England. They are also called on to be the protectors of the tribe's Massasoit.

“We’ve always had them. They are a special group of warriors, but they also have a special purpose in addition to being a warrior; they are spiritual leaders and also protectors.”

Much of the Walk of Pineese ceremony is shielded in secrecy, and few tribal members know all of what it entails apart from the Pineese themselves and the tribe’s powwas, who selects them.

However, Sachem Po Wauipi Neimpaug said Winter Hawk and Winding River were brought to Potumtuk last week, where a ceremony was held before they were left with only the clothes on their back. They re-emerged over the weekend.

“Their walk is almost like a vision quest,” Sagamore Po Wauipi Neimpaug said. “There are other things they’re told to do, but they’re left on the mountain; they’re on their own. We don’t see them until we go back there and get them.”

Following the end of the walk, tribal members held additional ceremonies with Winter Hawk and Winding River, at the Seat of Massasoit at Mt. Hope.

While the Walk of Pineese is an integral part of Pokanoket tradition, this is the first time in 10 years that the quest and ceremonies have been held. The Mt. Hope lands are owned by Brown University, and because of legal restrictions on the land “there are some things that were done in the past that we can’t do today,” said Sachem Po Pummakaonk Anogqs (Dancing Star).

“We think it’s really important that people know that the tribe of this area … we still have our traditions,” she said. “We’d like to be able to do it more, but we still have some difficulties trying to get on our land to do what we would like to do.”

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