December 1, 2023

Pokanoket Indigenous Tribe Mural Unveiled


The East Providence Arts Council sponsored an outdoor mural painting, honoring the Pokanoket indigenous people. The Pokanoket tribe of American Indians has lived in the East Providence and larger East Bay area for many centuries, from long before the pre-colonial era up to the present day. The Pokanoket tribe, sometimes historically called the Wampanoag, has inhabited the area all along the Rhode Island east bay vicinity and out into areas of Massachusetts, including Cape Cod.  The heritage of this tribe is rich with their customs, arts, history, beliefs, language, and unique way of life.  To help preserve the recognition and remembrance of their extensive culture, a permanent portrayal of the person representative of their nation is being installed in a prominent place in the East Providence area.  The ongoing creation of the large outdoor mural depicting the Massasoit Metacomet can be viewed at Watchemoket Square, at 9 Warren Avenue.

“Today (October 28th) we joined the Pokanoket Tribe, East Providence Arts Council, members of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Affairs, the artists Bonnie Turner and Charles Clear III and many others from the community as we unveiled the mural titled "Pokanoket".

The 24' x 28' mural was painted on a red brick building at 9 Warren Avenue in East Providence. Thanks to Sharon and Jay owners of the The 133 Club who offered their wall to be the host for the mural,” said Mayor Bob DaSilva.

“The mural depicts the Pokanokets last King, named Metacomet, standing on the shore of Mount Hope Bay in Bristol. It's a site that's sacred to the Pokanokets. Behind him is a rock formation known as The Three Sisters, which stands for corn, beans, and squash. Overhead is a canopy of oak leaves, which symbolize strength and resilience. Across the Bay is Fall River. We painted him in a circle shape to symbolize the circle of life.  Our model for Metacomet is Bill Guy, the present day Sagamore of the Pokanoket Tribe. The Sagamore is the 10th great-grandson of Massasoit,” explains artist and muralist Bonnie Turner.

“The Arts Council initiated the concept of this mural and has supervised the production process, gratefully accepting financial support from the Rhode Island Foundation, as well as from the City of East Providence.  Our design review panel for selecting the best artist from among all entries included Tracy “Dancing Star” Brown, the Sachem of the Pokanoket nation, along with Arts Council members,” said arts council chairman David O’Connell.  The Sagamore William “Winds of Thunder” Guy and other members of the tribe were involved in choosing the final design.  “Professional muralists Charles Clear III and Bonnie Lee Turner have created a powerful, iconic design that will be unforgettable for local residents and visitors alike.”

A public ceremony unveiling the work of art was held on Saturday, October 28th in the open area behind the 133 Club tavern.


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