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Aroostook Band of Micmacs hosts 24th annual Mawiomi of the Tribes

CARIBOU, Maine — Hundreds came out last weekend for a gathering hosted by the Micmac or Mi’gmaw tribe to enjoy dancing, indigenous food, and make connections with one another.

The tribe traditionally holds the Mawiomi, which roughly translates to “gathering” in the Micmac language, on the third weekend of August. According to the tribe’s official website, the event is “dedicated to all people of Mother Earth.”

Micmac Cultural Director John Dennis said this year’s event marked the 24th Mawiomi, and that the event initially started at Camper’s Paradise in Westfield and soon moved to Spruce Haven in Caribou.

He said that while the Mawiomi “encompasses so much,” the passing down of “cultural knowledge” is among the most important aspects of the event.

The drum circle and dancing, Dennis said, is meant to impart knowledge of traditional songs to the next generations. He said that tribal elders will also speak to children and members of the younger generation, imparting stories and traditional teachings.

Vendors lined up along the grass in Spruce Haven, providing a myriad of offerings in Native American cuisine, many using recipes passed down from their ancestors, while others offered an array of Native American artisan work, from jewelry to crafts and baskets.

The City of Caribou also set up a booth at the Mawiomi, and offered coloring pages and a bounce castle during the event.

Caribou Marketing and Events Coordinator Christina Kane-Gibson said she was honored that the tribe has been holding the event within the city.

“We have a really great relationship with the Micmac tribe,” she said, “and we’re happy to be here and support them.”

Francis Pictou, a member of the tribe who has been attending Mawiomi for a decade, spoke of how he was dedicating a prayer tie (an object made of cloth, tobacco, and string as an offering to the Great Spirit in exchange for blessings) for his sister Virginia Pictou, a victim of domestic violence who state police are classifying as “missing.”

He added that he attends numerous tribal gatherings in the Massachusetts area, where he lives, but nothing compares to the Mawiomi in Caribou.

“The Pow Wows down where I’m at seem commercialized,” he said. “I don’t see the spirituality, comradery, or the connection, but when I come back to the Mawiomi I get the connection, because these are the people I grew up with.”

Pictou said, just the day before, he was connected with one of his mother’s friends, who he’d never met in person before, and that he soon made numerous connections to many in attendance.

“If you hang around the native community more,” he said, “you’re going to find the laughter and the fun, and that’s what we need. We’re here to grow and learn, and have fun. That’s what the Mawiomi is about; it’s the gathering of the tribes.”

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