Aquinnah devotee June Manning dies aged 74

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June Manning, who was cherished in many parts of the Martha’s Vineyard community, passed away on Monday, November 8 at the age of 74.

As the eldest of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), longtime historian and knowledge collector, and champion and teacher of Wampanoag culture, the impact of her death is felt throughout the island.

In a statement on behalf of the tribe, Tribal Council President Cheryl Andrews-Maltais wrote that the entire community is saddened by the news of Manning’s passing. “An active member of the tribe her entire life, June has been a constant in our community for decades. She has served our tribal community in many ways; as a member of several advisory committees, as well as an employee. She was our resident genealogist and, of course, our community presenter, ”Andrews-Maltais wrote.

Manning was a columnist for the Vineyard Gazette.

Andrews-Maltais noted Manning’s strange memory of the names and important dates of tribal members and ancestors, and her role as ambassador on behalf of the tribe, representing the community on many of the committees, commissions and councils of the town and island – “always making sure that the tribesmen have a voice,” Andrews-Maltais wrote. “She touched, and was loved and respected by so many. She will be sadly missed. We ask the Creator to ease the grief of her family and friends and replace that sadness with the countless happy memories and laughter June left with us to remember her.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Town of Aquinnah Administrator Jeff Madison said it was a sad day for the community of Wampanoag and the town of Aquinnah. “June was a respected elder with a lot of knowledge that she shared regularly. This part of his life will be dearly missed by all of us who enjoyed this. We are all touched by June’s passing, ”Madison said.

Selected board member Juli Vanderhoop said the dedication Manning shows to her community was her whole being, and everyone around her knew how proud she was to be a member of the Wampanoag Tribe. and an active supporter of the city. “Losing this elder in the community is quite a blow to a lot of people. Today I feel for the family and can’t wait to come home and reunite with them so we can all celebrate his life together, ”said Vanderhoop.

Just spending time with Manning, said Vanderhoop, she learned so much about the island’s history and Wampanoag culture. “The Manning family has always been a big part of the industry in town – fishing and stuff. They knew the people, and the fact that June learned genealogy, she knew these families, she spoke to them, and she took so much knowledge and wisdom with her throughout her life, ”said Vanderhoop.

Having worn so many different hats on the vineyard, Vanderhoop said, Manning will be missed in many ways, and anyone who comes to town hall to vote or attend a town hall will regret his welcoming presence, greeting locals as they enter. .

“She was always the first one we would see at every polling station – she would be there to help all day and all night, every time. It will be a sad day when we all have to return to town hall for a town hall meeting or a vote and she will not be there, but we will always carry her spirit and memory, ”Vanderhoop said.

Berta Welch, speaking about her role as chair of the board of directors of the Aquinnah Cultural Center, said Manning has achieved many standards of living on the vineyard, but has always been a fierce advocate for culture, history and the rights of the indigenous peoples of Wampanoag. heart of everything she has done. “These were the things she really believed in and lived her life as a Wampanoag mother, grandmother and elder,” Welch said.

Manning was also an important part of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. She has served on the museum’s board of directors since 2013 and has been a member of the collections committee, the programming committee and the development committee.

According to Heather Seger, executive director of Martha’s Vineyard Museum, Manning has always been a board member and cherished her role as a tribal historian. “She has always been an incredible resource for the museum, but more than anything, she will be missed for her kindness, her spirit and her commitment to doing the important work we do here,” said Seger. “She loved us and we loved her. The island will suffer today.

The museum’s oral history curator, Linsey Lee, said Manning was passionate, strong-willed, loving and kind.

She noted how much Manning’s Wampanoag legacy meant to her and how much the stories, skills, beauty and challenges of the Indigenous nation were a source of pride for her. “All of these things, and a sense of community tied together by family and rich culture,” Lee said.

According to Lee, Manning was a youth educator and she always took the opportunity to pass on her wisdom and historical knowledge to the younger members of the tribe.

Although she lived and thrived in other places, Lee said, Manning’s home has always been the vineyard and its essence has always been Aquinnah. “She was a good friend, and it was always such a joy to meet her as she roamed the vineyard, appearing absolutely everywhere,” said Lee.

Since the museum was called Dukes County Historical Society, Manning was there if people needed information on anything Aquinnah related, and she regularly volunteered her time to help Lee find interesting people to interview and transcribe. interviews for her.

“His generosity was incredible, his sense of humor was incredible,” said Lee. “I think we all have to say with immense sadness goodbye to a good friend and a true Vineyard / Noepe child.”

A funeral service for Manning will be held at a time and date to be announced.


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