Tribal Council


Cedric Cromwell, Chairman

Wuneekeesuq Numusees kah Neechayak
(Good Day my Sisters and Brothers)

My commitment to tribal well-being, my personal sense of integrity and my years of working in the financial markets all combined will make me a strong leader, one who will be fully accountable for all decisions regarding tribal governance.

At the heart of my sense of leadership is the core principle of integrity and honesty which has guided my compass throughout my life.

Here are some of my accomplishments:

  • Over a decade of corporate experience working at Fidelity Investments, Boston's number one Mutual Fund financial service company. Recently served in dual roles as both Director of Project Management and Business Portfolio Director. In these roles, managed a multi-million dollar Retirement Services Technology Development Portfolio.
  • Hold a Bachelors degree in Management & Community Planning from UMass, an Associates degree in Computer Information Systems, and am working towards earning an MBA.
  • Member of the Tribal Council for over eight consecutive years.
  • Understand the needs of our people and encourage participation from all tribal members.
  • Have provided honest leadership that respects the Constitution and all tribal members.
  • Seek to preserve and promote our culture and traditions.
  • Am a proven leader, adept at utilizing a combination of technology, finance, operations, and management consulting experience.
  • Have over fifteen years of proven experience in driving change through global programs that deliver productivity, growth and efficiencies while minimizing costs.
  • Possess global experience managing teams, client relationships, and key business partners in a number of critical business and technology initiatives.
  • Responsible for the design, implementation and management of a Mass General Hospital universal billing 92 system.
  • Raised in the Mashpee Wampanoag tribal community with deep roots in tribal traditions and culture, and an active member of the Eastern Sons Drummers & Singers participating in Native socials and powwows throughout the region.

jessie little doe baird, Vice-Chairwoman

jessie little doe baird is a citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and a member of the Wampanoag Women’s Medicine Society.  She is the mother of five children aged 8 to 30 years old and she lives in Mashpee and in Aquinnah, MA with her husband Jason Baird of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe and their youngest child.

jessie is the Co-founder of the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project which began in 1993/94.  This is an intertribal effort between the Mashpee, Herring Pond, Aquinnah, and Assonet Wampanoag communities.  The aim of the project is to reclaim Wôpanâôt8âôk as a spoken language.  There were no speakers of the language for six generations. She also teaches Wôpanâôt8âôk.
little doe received her Master of Science in Linguistics from MIT in 2000.  She has written an introduction to the grammar of the language and is currently expanding this sketch toward a complete grammar.  jessie has created the first curriculum for teaching the language and is currently working with Professor Norvin Richards toward the completion of a dictionary that  holds over 11,000 words. 

jessie is the current Director for ‘Pâhshaneekamuq’, a public charter immersion school planning project with a staff of nine funded by the Administration for Native Americans.  jessie little doe is a former National Science Foundation Documenting Endangered Languages Fellow, a member of the American Antiquarian Society and a 2010 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award Fellow.

little doe served one term on the Mashpee Housing Authority as a commissioner and on the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council Board of Directors.  Until recently announcing her candidacy for Vice Chairperson of the Mashpee Wamapanoag Tribe, she served on the Enrollment Committee for the tribe. 

jessie has also served in an advisory capacity for past and current Wampanoag cultural projects for various organizations and film productions.  She lectures for colleges and universities and advises tribal communities and governments in the area of language project policy and curriculum development. Other of her passions are Wampanoag history and cooking, fishing, and traditional regalia craft and dance.


Ann Marie Askew, Secretary



Gordon Harris, Treasurer

Gordon Harris joined the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council in 2017. Gordon has over 30 years in business and operations management in corporate, retail, manufacturing and gaming. Previously, he was the President and Chief Operating Officer at Wakeby Fire & Associates, a marketing and fundraising consulting agency, from 2005 to 2017. Prior to that, he served as Senior Vice President of Diversity and Regional Vice President of Human Resources for Sovereign Bank from 2000 to 2005. Prior to that, he held several positions with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and Foxwoods Resort & Casino including Indian Preference Officer and Director of Employment from 1995 to 2000.

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Yvonne Frye Avant, Tribal Council Member

Yvonne is the longest standing Council member with 18 years committed to the leadership of the Tribe. She has also spent 4 years as a Commissioner with the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs. Taking a 4 year break to represent the Tribe as a Commissioner, Yvonne was honored to do so but said she missed the more intimate, day to day, Tribal relationship she had as a Councilmember, thus ran for office and sat on Council again. Yvonne also brings to the Council a BA in Management from U-Mass Boston and many years of working with Tribal programs. She spent several years with the Mashpee Indian Education Program in its early years and 6 years working with the Boston Indian Council, now known as NAICOB (Native American Center of Boston) as their Employment and Training Coordinator. At that time she also filled in as weekend counselor at the Tecumseh House, an Alcoholic Rehabilitation Home for Native Americans.

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Cheryl Frye-Cromwell, Tribal Council Member

As a Tribal Government Representative, Tribal Health Liaison and an active Tribal Education Committee member Cheryl is dedicated and committed to contributing positive and productive energy to her people and their future. Since Mashpee’s Federal Recognition in 2007, Cheryl has been working on behalf of the tribe as the Tribal a liaison to the Indian Health Service and other federal, state and local agencies to build the capacity and resources for health care services for the tribe. Cheryl works diligently as a team with the Health Director, Health Advisory Committee, Indian Health Service and other federal, state and local agencies as well as a member of the USET -United South and Eastern Tribe and NCAI- National Congress of American Indian Organizations. Cheryl is the project manager of a newly funded SAMSHA grant that provides resources for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment for her tribal members and coordinates the Harvard Medical Native American High School Summer program at Harvard Medical School. As a Tribal Education Committee member for the past 10 years, Cheryl has works closely and diligently with the committee in developing the tribe’s first Tribal Education Department. Cheryl collaborates with educational institutions to provide opportunities for higher learning and trainings to promote self-esteem and employment sustainability. Cheryl has been recently appointed to the DSTAC to represent the Nashville Area Direct Service tribes and is very instrumental in implementing health care services to her tribal members by opening their first Direct Service Tribes Health Clinic.


Winnie Johnson Graham, Tribal Council Member


David Weeden, Tribal Council Member

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Carlton Hendricks, Tribal Council Member


Winona Pocknett, Tribal Council Member

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Robert Dias, Tribal Council Member

Traditional Leaders


Chief Vernon Lopez "Silent Drum"

The soft spoken unassuming leader brought a quiet resolve to the tribal agenda. Like many Mashpeeians, "Bunny" was a nickname given to him by an aunt and most never knew his given name. The thoughtful Chief focused on issues that influenced the future of the Tribe. He was part of the leadership that guided us through the final phase of the very emotional recognition process and the membership is grateful for his steady hand. He says education and healthcare are central to the destiny of the Mashpee Wampanoag. He continues to press for attention to those survival issues.


Medicine Man Soaring Eagle