It’s only in magical places like Oak Bluffs that one might find himself neighbors with a real Indian chief. About six columns ago I reminisced about growing up during the summer on Dukes County avenue a few doors down from who I thought was Napoleon Madison. Our folks had referred to him as chief of the tribe and his wearing a headdress was a cherished part of my memories as a six or seven-year-old boy. Curiosity getting the better of me, I reached out to my friend and Gazette Aquinnah columnist June Manning who said the gentleman was not Napoleon Madison and more than likely was Rev. Leroy C. Perry, who at times ministered at the Bradley Memorial.

I was able to obtain a book called The Mashpee Indians which told the story of when, in 1928, members of the Mashpees formed a new Wampanoag Nation comprised of leaders of groups from Mashpee, Gay Head, Herring Pond and other Cape Cod areas. Over two days of meetings, lo and behold, Reverend Leroy C. Perry, minister to the Narragansett Indians of Rhode Island was chosen to be supreme sachem.

Reverend Perry took the name Ousamequin (Yellow Feather) and became chief of the Wampanoag. He served as supreme sachem until his death on June 26, 1960 according to the announcement in the Newport Daily News of 6/28/1960. Born in Tiverton, R.I., Chief Perry’s lineage extended to the Massasoit tribe (the one that greeted the Pilgrims in 1620). He died here on Martha’s Vineyard at the age of 86 years old.

Chief Perry was “an outspoken champion of the rights of the American Indian, and a critic of conditions under which some of them lived on reservations.” I didn’t know him as Ousamequin, but I am enchanted to know it now. I felt just as good then when he’d smile and put that headdress on for us. You don’t get cooler than being Yellow Feather, Chief of the Wampanoags.

The annual town meeting is next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at the regional high school, which will be predictably poorly attended with no controversial issues and town finances in better than good shape, especially as related to our bond rating.

Controversy always increases attendance, but the lack thereof tends to have the opposite effect. In that light let me refer you to the fifth part of Article 21, “Historical Lantern Replacement: To see if the Town will appropriate $147,900 (blah, blah)… to replace the lanterns along Sea View Avenue with ones that are historically accurate.”

That’s a lot of money, and the only one of 13 recommendations by the Community Preservation Committee that the entire finance and advisory board rejected unanimously — zero in favor, eight against.

Music isn’t something needed to sustain life and art isn’t food, but the price can be measured by the maintenance of Ocean Park’s landscaping and bandstand. The sight is music to our eyes. We’ve personally populated Ocean Park and Sea View avenue with enough benches to seat every child in the Oak Bluffs School and receive little in return other than the satisfaction of memories of folks gone by. Happiness isn’t calculable, but we know it when we feel it. And while historical lanterns do cost money, they are sure to make folks happy; now and in the future. Like ice cream, it might not be good for you but it sure tastes good. The town has the funds, so if not now then when? With few people attending town meeting it ought to be a sweet time to win the vote.

Using that for a segue, Back Door Donuts reopens next Friday night (April 15). Vote for historical lanterns lining our sweetest vistas of land and sea this Tuesday, and reward yourself with your first fritter on Friday.

Ben deForest is back in action at the Red Cat Kitchen and assures all he has a superstar chef holding the fort at The Ritz. Brussels sprouts are back.

Make your opinion known about town hall. Mine is that it’s ugly and needs to be replaced. You can pick up a survey at town hall, the senior center or complete it online at On the town website it will take 10 clicks to finally find it. We don’t yet have a website that will search “Town Survey.” Keep your foot on a rock.

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