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The Pow-Wow Oak Story

Breaking News: The majestic Pow-Wow Oak has been cut down! On  May 23, the City of Lowell cut down the tree, because of rot damage that brought down some of the larger limbs.

In order to preserve its legacy, we are hoping to convince the National Historic Park of Lowell to provide a space where a section of the tree, and perhaps an interactive multi-media presentation can be installed. We believe visitors to the City of Lowell will appreciate the sense of history such an exhibit would provide. If you agree, please contact the National Historic Park of Lowell, MA.

The majestic PowWow Oak is an historic monument - more than 300 years old - representing both our local Native American and European heritages. It was a gathering place for Native Americans performing sacred ceremonies. It was also a place where Revolutionary War militia gathered as they made their way to Lexington and Concord. So it has great significance to both cultures. Plymouth has a Rock, Lowell had the Pow-Wow Oak!

And yet it has been neglected for many years: It has been encroached upon by development, it has been damaged by landscaping activities, fence posts have punctured its mighty roots... and now it has been cut down.

This was The Last Pow-Wow Oak in New England.

The Pow-Wow Oak was recognized by the American Forests' Historic Trees Program as a "Historic Tree."

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The Pow-Wow Oak has been declared by the Lowell City Council to be a Public Tree on Public property.

We have a protective space around the tree that is accessible to the public, so that we can all enjoy the history of this magnificant tree, as described on the plaque and signage at the site where it stood.

It was thanks to the help of many concerned citizens, who raised the funds needed to install permanent boundary markers delineating the right-of-way in which the tree lived.


THE MEANING OF THE WORD POWWOW

Powwow, Pow-wow, Pauwau, Pouwou, Pawwau, Paw-waw, powwaa..ect, is a word that originates amongst the southern New England Algonkian dialects ( Narragansett/Nipmuc, Massachusett/Wampanoag).

The meaning of the word in it's most original form, is the practice or performance of medicine. This medicine was used by natural and supernatural means. Natural medicine with the use of herbs, supernatural medicine was used by prayer, and the skillful willpower of the Manitou (a spirit of power within all living things) that was given to the people by their Creator. A Pauwau, was a distinguished title of a spiritual leader and practitioner of the ancient medicine.

Pow-wow, was also attributed to a meeting where Pow-wowing was done. Sometimes for big decisions of the tribe such as diplomacy, war, trade, and the general spiritual direction of the people.THERE WAS NO SEPARATION OF RELIGION AND POLITICS IN THE CULTURE BACK THEN!!! These meetings could have lasted for hours or days.

In 1633, Gov. John Winthrop, of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, passed a law forbidding Pow-wowing:

"And it is Ordered that no Indian shall at any time Powaw or perform outward worship to their False Gods, or to the Devil, in any part of our jurisdiction, whether they be such as shall come hither, and if any shall transgress this law the Powawer shall pay five pounds, the procurer five pounds, and every other countenancing by his presence or otherwise being of age of discretion, twenty shilling, and every Town shall have power to restrain all Indians that shall come into their towns, from Prophaning the Lord's day." [1633. 37,40,41,42,46,48,56,57,58.]
THE COLONIAL LAWS OF MASSACHUSETTS. REPRINTED FROM THE EDITION OF 1660, WITH THE SUPPLEMENTS TO 1672. CONTAINING ALSO, THE BODY OF LIBERTIES OF 1641.

- by Edward J O'Keefe Jr.


History of The POW-WOW Tree - by Edward J O'Keefe Jr.

Council Oak's or Powwow Oak's, Council Trees and Powwow Tree's are a significant and sacred part of Native American Indian culture.

1.) We have the "Arapaho Council Tree", in Larimer country, Colorado. www.poudrelibraries.org/counciltree/name.html

2.) We have the "Ute Council Tree" (Cottonwood) located in Delta, Colorado. www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM66JQ_Ute_Council_Tree

3.) We have the "Creek Council Oak Tree", in Tulsa, Oklahoma. www.tulsapreservationcommission.org/.../index.pl?id=16 -

4.) The Clackamas Indian people, have a historical "Pow-Wow Tree" ( Bigleaf maple) located in Gladstone, Oregon.
 www.waymarking.comHomeCategoriesCategory

5.) The Menominees, have a historical Council Oak in the town of Grand Chute, Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Archeologist, vol, 15.March 1916, No.1. George R. Fox.

6.) The Tunxis Indian people, had what is known in history as the "Charter Oak", it was located at Hartford, Connecticut. Graham's Magazine, Vol. XXII. June, 1843 No.6
www.farmingtonhistoricalsociety-ct.org/fh_farmhist_pg1.html -

7.) The Wampanoag, have a council tree known as "The Dighton Council Oak". Tradition holds that, Massasoit gave orders to feed the Pilgrims from under the Council Oak. King Phillip met at the Council Oak to hold Council with the Pocassets ( sub-group of the Wampanoag). Sometimes, this was also referred as a Charter Oak and was the site of the signing of the Dighton Charter in 1663.
Massachusetts Historical Commission, MHC#Dig MA01. The Wampananoag Indian Federation Of The Algonquin Nation, Indian Neighbors Of The Pilgrims, by Milton A. Travers.

8.) Jethro's Tree, in Concord, MA. named after Jethro, a Pawtucket Indian of Musketequid (Concord MA).  There is a historical marker commemorating the location of where the tree once was, it reads:

JETHRO'S TREE

"Near this spot stood the ancient oak known as Jethro’s Tree beneath which Major Simon Willard and his associates bought from the Indians the “6 myles of land square” ordered by the General Court for the Plantation of Concord September 12, 1635." Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission.

Jethro, alias Tantamous, had relocated to the Nashobah Prayer Town, with other Indians from Musketequid. And moved to the Natick Prayer Town, in 1674.
"Jethro's Deposition" Southern Middlesex Registry of Deeds,Book,9. Page,106.
History of the Town of Concord; Middlesex County, Massachusetts. By Lemuel Shattuck.

The tree's have been referred to as places of land proprietorship, to the colonists, from the Indians. At times making it look like a treaty, or an act of diplomacy.

These sacred Native American tree's, were found or planted on spiritual landscapes or power spots. A Pauwaw or a Medicine Person, would plant or find the tree.

The tree's were a place of prayer and of ceremony. Council fires and Sacred fires would take place at a Pow-Wow Tree or Council tree, sometimes ashes from other fires would be placed in the fire at these trees.

Strengthening, overall social alliances and the spiritual direction of these Nations,the meeting under the tree, is an ancient Native American Tradition.

Enjoy

"The Last Pow-Wow Oak Big Branch Pack"

Includes DVD, Soundtrack CD, T-Shirt & Post Card


 

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Enjoy the Official Pow-Wow Oak Protector T-Shirt!


 

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Experience the Majesty of the Mighty Pow-Wow Oak

with "The Last Pow-Wow Oak" Documentary DVD

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P.O.B. 9701, Lowell, MA 01852


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