The following is an excerpt of the obituary that appeared in the Telegram.com media outlet of Worcestor, MA, on the death of Chief Wise Owl of the Nipmuc Nation. Calling hours were yesterday.
Chief Wise Owl dies; led Nipmuc recognition battle
By Bradford L. Miner
February 9, 2010
WARREN — Edwin W. Morse Sr., who as Chief Wise Owl led the Chaubunagungamaug clan of Nipmucs in a nearly three-decade bid for federal recognition, has died.
The 81-year-old will be succeeded by his son, Edwin W. Morse Jr., known as Chief Red Fox.
As chief of the Webster-Dudley band of Nipmucs, the senior Morse was instrumental in the Nipmuc petition to the Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs for federal recognition, a process that started in 1980.
In 1996, the Hassanamisco and Chaubunagungamaug clans filed separate petitions for recognition. Both were denied in June 2004 for failure to meet all seven criteria for federal recognition.
Both the Chaubunagungamaug and Hassanamisco learned in February 2008 that all administrative avenues for federal recognition had been exhausted when the bureau declined to reconsider an appeal of the denied petition.
The Chaubunagungamaug petition failed to meet the criteria that the petitioner had been identified as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900; a predominant portion of the petitioning group constituted a distinct community and had existed as a community from historical times until the present; and the petitioner had maintained political influence or authority over its members as an autonomous entity from historical times until the present.
The Hassanamisco petition was found lacking on four criteria.
According to family members and friends, Chief Wise Owl wrote three books on the Algonquin language, traditions and legends.
He taught the spoken Algonquin language, the cooking of traditional American Indian foods, and the use of the traditional regalia seen at powwows and other tribal events.
As justice of the peace, Chief Wise Owl officiated at American Indian weddings, He was active in tribal affairs and was a voice promoting the cultural identity and well-being of Americans Indians throughout the region.
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