On April 22, members of the Tribal Council, Council of Elders, and Cultural and Community Programs department held their annual event to bring Mohegan history and culture to officials at the state capitol building in Hartford.
At the lunch reception, the room was given a Mohegan touch with sweetgrass braids and decorated gourds placed at each table, provided by the Cultural Department. The feel of Mohegan culture was also created by tribal members who came to Hartford wearing full regalia. Justin Scott drummed and sang, while firekeeper Jay Iholff contributed a Native tune on the flute.
Councilor Bruce S. Bozsum “Two Dogs” welcomed the attendees to what he called “Connecticut’s greatest lunch” as food and beverage staffers from Mohegan Sun served up traditional offerings including clam chowder, succotash, Indian pudding, and mini “Chief Sturges” sandwiches with turkey, cranberry and stuffing. Following his welcome, Chief Lynn Malerba “Many Hearts” read a Mohegan prayer, closing with “may we open our hearts and minds as we share our thoughts with you today.”
Ambassador Mark F. Brown delivered the keynote address, putting the emphasis on the mutual co-operation and respect that has existed between the state of Connecticut and the Mohegan Tribe for four centuries. He hearkened back to the contributions made by Chief Ralph Sturges “G’tinemong” to continue the strong intergovernmental relationship following federal recognition. He also reminded the attendees that Chief Sturges holds a place in the state capitol’s Connecticut Hall of Fame (Chief Sturges was included in June of 2008). His address also included the belief that “sovereignty is the foundation of our existence,” and that “sustaining the life and culture of our ancestors is our mission.”
Several state representatives and senators joined the Tribe, and the day was capped by a brief visit from Governor Dannel Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman. Gov. Malloy was very complimentary toward the Tribe, saying “it’s an honor to be invited and included…we are as good a partner with you as you are with us.” He closed his remarks by saying “let’s keep going, and keep good things coming.”
Due to business travel, both Chairman Kevin Brown “Red Eagle” and Vice Chairman James Gessner were unable to attend the event.