A Tomaquag Nikommo : Lorén Spears

December, 2017

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Asco wequassinummis, neetompooag! (Hello my friends)

Indigenous communities including the Narragansett tribe celebrate 13 traditional thanksgivings.  This is a story written about a contemporary version of the Nikommo Thanksgiving.


A Tomaquag Nikommo

At the first winter moon, we gather to celebrate Nikommo. Nikommo is a feast honoring the Creator’s gifts. Mukhasunee Pashau greets the people as others set the feast. People visit from far and near, Narragansett, Pequot, Wampanoag, Mohegan, Tuscarora, Lakota and non-Native guests alike.

Each visitor brings a give-away. The gifts are for those in need in the Narragansett community. Food, clothing, toys, pottery, baskets and other items are given. A Give-away is part of our cultural traditions. Many moons ago, our relatives would have give-aways for as many as 1000 people. Today we have various sized give-aways, but the average is more like 100 people. Today we give to help those in need and to connect to our tradition. We give as part of our worship or spirituality. It was a spiritual giving, not a material giving. Our ancestors often gave beyond their means. This has been pasted down to us and there are still individuals who continue in this tradition. However, the Tomaquag Nikommo does not require it.  

Nikommo begins with a ceremony of Thanksgiving, Kutampanisha-Dawn smudges the circle of people. Smudging is a purification ceremony-to purify your mind, body and spirit through a cleansing with medicinal herbs such as sweet-grass or cedar. A pray is given in both the Narragansett language and in English. Others are given opportunity to share in prayers of thanksgiving. Sherente sings and drums an honor song: Neeawon Nahahiganseck Numenaki Nupeetooamun-We are Narragansett. We are Strong. We are Proud. It is followed by the Friendship Dance-everyone gets into line behind the lead singer. They put their left hand on the right shoulder of the person in front of them, and dance to the rhythm of the rattle. 

Time to feast! All enjoy succotash, corn chowder, corn bread, roast turkey, venison stew, Three Sister’s soup, corn relish, cranberry muffins, cornmeal cookies, and mint and sassafras teas. Kamonetop plays the flute for all to enjoy. 

Games begin! Hubub or Bowl game is played. “Hub Hub Hub” is shouted by the players. Wesly has 5 reds Silver Arrow has only 3. What fun! Who will win? Others play Moccasin Game. Can they guess where the hider is? The quartz stone was in the third moccasin. They sing and drum again. The loudest group is sure to win. 

Nikommo-a feast and give-away. Kutaputush Kittantoowat. Thank you, Creator. 

*Archival Images from Nikommo 2015*

Kutaputush (Thank You), 
The Tomaquag Editing Team
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