Elders Judiciary Committee
Wilson David Harding – I was born on April 23, 1934 to parents Eleanor Pocknet Harding [Princess Blue Feather] and Charles Dean Harding [Chief White Feather] of the Wampanoag tribe. I was raised in Bournedale, spending numerous times with my grandparents, Wilson & Nellie Harding, and Tink Barboza of Mashpee. Schooling included Sagamore grammar and New Bedford Vocational. In the 50's I was on the Bourne Police force, serving as officer for 10 years. After doing auto body repair for many years, I finally opened one in Fairhaven, MA in 1970. I owned it for 34 years and I sold it in 2004 in order to retire. Then I had more time to re-introduce myself to the tribe as an Elder. In 1970 I moved to Mattapoisett, Ma where I now have lived for over 38 years. I have served on the Mashpee Wampanoag Elders Judiciary Committee since April 2006.
Barbara Harris – I have in my younger years, traveled extensively in Europe and lived there for many years while my husband worked as an Engineer for Raytheon. During our travels I volunteered at the Home for the Aged in Singapore. On my return to the United States, I cared for ailing family members, volunteered at Hospice, and raised my children. Also, during that time, I worked for a Human Service Agency dealing with domestic abuse. I have always served various Committees in the Tribe (Health Advisory Board, Mashpee Committee against Substance Abuse, Circle of Care in Drug and Alcohol Support, Dot Cash Multicultural Peace and Nature Camp, Babes in arms at Boston City Hospital) and was on the Tribal Council at one time. I also taught Indian Education and Culture at Mashpee High School. I have been a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Elders Judiciary Committee since April 2006.
Gordon Peters – Tribal issues have always been important to me. I was raised in Mashpee and know a great deal about our heritage and culture. I worked at the Mashpee Wampanoag Equestrian Center for years, which was a Tribal business enterprise. My employment ended at the Equestrian Center. I looked for other ways to help my Tribe. When a vacancy came up in the Elders Judiciary Committee, I volunteered to be part of that Committee. I have served on the Elders Judiciary Committee since April 2006. I understood that it was an important task that I wanted to be a part of. Shortly, after joining I developed health issues that prevented me from attending all meetings, but my other Committee Members always kept me in the loop. As my health continues to strengthen I have decided to maintain my involvement and commitment to developing the best Court System we can build.
Vivian Bussiere – I was not brought up in Mashpee, although my father was a Mashpee Wampanoag tribal member, we lived in Hyannis. I remember visiting Aunts, Cousins, and Uncles in the Mashpee area. Uncle Lee was a real outdoorsman and lived like an old time Indian. I will never forget him. As I grew older, I decided to pursue a college education and obtained a BA in Psychology at U. Mass Dartmouth and went on the get a Masters in Social Work at Boston University. I became a Program Director for a non-profit human service agency working with children with neurological disabilities and their families. As I became older, the pull of my heritage and involvement with the Tribe became a focus. I volunteered to become Treasurer of the Parish Committee and then several years later became Secretary of the Mashpee Wampanoag Elders Judiciary Committee when it was developed in April 2006. I was asked to serve as Chairperson of the Elders Judiciary Committee by the Tribal Council in 2009. I am committed to developing a fair and effectual Court System that will serve the members of our Tribe.
Patricia Dotson – I have always been interested in Law and in the past have taken Paralegal studies and Criminal Justice classes. The most important lesson I learned was that ignorance of the law is no excuse; so if you don’t know something pertaining to the law, find somebody who does. I found that my studies provided a helpful foundation to work on the projects of the Mashpee Wampanoag Elders Judiciary Committee. I have had experience in the past running a small business that was successful. I developed Tag Sales for the Mashpee Wampanoag Elders to gather funding for their projects and to purchase a van. I volunteered to be part of the Mashpee Wampanoag Elders Judiciary Committee and despite the hard work and many meetings; I see it coming together with strong support of the Tribal members and Tribal Council. It is a great need for us to sustain our ability to self-govern and an honor to work toward that goal. I have served on the committee since April 2006.
Roxanne Brown - I am the daughter of Mashpee Wampanoag Chief Earl H. Mills, Sr. and Shirley L. Mills, Navajo. For many years I helped my parents sponsor the Mashpee Pow Wow; I was a tribal council member and member of the Federated Eastern Indian League (FEIL) and Coalition for Eastern Native Americans (CENA) during its infancy. After attending high school in Falmouth, I attended Simmons College where I participated in the youth group at the Boston Indian Council, and was a regular on Indian radio, hosted by Al Oakley, Supreme Sachem of the Wampanoag Nation. I received a Master of Education (Ed.M.) from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. In the 1970's, I married James C. Brown, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, who passed in 2008. I am the mother of 3 grown and remarkable children, Fawn, Nebasett, and Wamsutta; and the proud grandmother of Ava, Ella, and Olivia Brown, Louisburg, KS, and Bradley and Delaney Bennett, Austin, Texax. I retired in 2013 from the Senior Executive Service, Bureau of Indian Education, as Associate Deputy Director (East). In that capacity, I worked with over 60 schools, both federally operated and tribally controlled, to meet the requirements of the "No Child Left Behind Act" and to address the newer Common Core Standards. I am currently the Associate Director, Planning & Development for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.
Marcella E. Furey – As a child each summer we would go to Mashpee and spend time at my grandfather’s home, the Louis Mills homestead. Those summers were very important to me. I learned so much about my heritage. As I grew up I found myself in a number of different places, but always remembered where I came from. When I moved back to Mashpee in 2006 I become more involved with Tribal activities. During June of 2009, I heard that the Elders Judiciary Committee was looking for new members. I wrote a letter of interest and was interviewed and accepted into the Committee. I serve as Secretary to the Elders Judiciary Committee and continue to have an active role as a committee member.
History and Tasks of the Elders Judiciary Committee
- In the summer of 2006 seven elders of the Tribe volunteered to serve on the EJC and work on the development of a tribal court system.
- The EJC were considered Judges during this time and heard the first case in Tribal Court on February 18, 2007.
- The EJC interviewed 7 different attorneys and judges and recommended to the Tribal Council that Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux be appointed to serve as a Contract Judge.
- On October 8, 2008 the Judicial Ordinance developed by the EJC with the help of Attorney Mark Tilden and was presented to Tribal Council and accepted for posting. On November 22, 2008 the Mashpee Wampanoag Judiciary Ordinance was subject to Public Notice and Comment. The Tribal Council adopted the Judicial Ordinance on October 7, 2009.
- The Tribe was awarded a TCAP grant for the development of Tribal Court on September
- The EJC managed the two year TCAP grant and developed annual budgets in compliance with the grant.
- Two EJC members trained and served as Court Clerks
- The EJC interviewed Judges and recommended three judges to Tribal Council.
- On August 24, 2009 Henry J. Sockbeson was sworn in as the first Chief Judge of the Mashpee Wampanoag Supreme Court. Judges Rochelle Ducheneaux and Robert Mills were sworn in as Supreme Court Judges.
- Two EJC members were hired as Court Administrators.
- The EJC developed the Judicial Advisory Board in compliance with the TCAP grant.
- The EJC planned and implemented a Peacemaker training.
- The Chair of the EJC and Leslie Jonas of Development wrote an ANA SEDS TG grant for the development of infrastructure for the Tribal Judiciary.
- The EJC developed a brochure for Tribal Court and distributed a brochure to all Tribal Households.
- The EJC oversees and manages the ANA SEDS TG grant.
- The EJC developed an itinerary for the BIA visit and planned cultural events.