Wampanoag Center draws big Mashpee hoops crowd


Both Mashpee’s boys and girls basketball teams currently have members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on their rosters. The Tribe has had representation on all four state-champion football teams, and many other Falcons teams have also had tribal members.

“The Mashpee Wampanoag kids are a huge part of all of our programs,” said athletic director and football coach Matt Triveri. “It really runs the gamut. Track, tennis, lacrosse, it doesn’t matter. They’re a big part of our program.”

The connections between the two communities were on display Tuesday night, when both Mashpee varsity basketball teams played at the Mashpee Wampanoag Community and Government Center for the first time. Triveri said the event drew in a packed house, the Falcons girls beating Sturgis West and the boys taking down Carver.

The event began with a performance by the Tribe’s Eastern Suns Drum Group. Triveri said the Tribe also hosted practices for both teams and gave students a tour of the facility, which opened in 2014.

“That facility is a phenomenal facility, just an absolutely beautiful place, and the gym is just terrific,” Triveri said. “It was a great, great night. It was free admission, and we got a great crowd.”

Trish Keli’inui, Public Relations and Communications Manager for the Tribe, said the idea to play at the center took shape two years ago, when Triveri and principal Mark Balestracci toured the facility while picking up a tribal flag for use during graduation. The Mashpee school committee and Tribal Council earlier this month laid out a series of steps designed to foster a “positive and productive partnership between the Mashpee Public Schools and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe that includes and values the Tribe’s rich heritage and culture,” according to a statement from superintendent Patty DeBoer.

Mashpee High School offers “Wôpanâak Pasuq,” an introduction to the Tribe’s traditional language, as part of its curriculum. Tuesday’s basketball games were part of that partnership plan.

“Tuesday was an absolutely remarkable day,” said Keli’inui, whose son Jordan was a senior on the 2011 champion football team. “It’s important that the community knows that we are here, we are another nation, but obviously we’re part of the fabric of this community, and we want people to feel like they’re part of our community just as much.”