Eleanor Harding, 94, Was Elder of Mashpee Tribe

Eleanor Pocknett Harding, Princess Blue Feather, died Christmas eve at the Royal Megansett Nursing and Retirement Home in North Falmouth at age 94. She was a senior matriarch of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

Mrs. Harding was the wife of the late Chief White Feather of the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, Charles D. Harding Sr., who died in 1980.

The great-granddaughter of the Rev. Blind Joe Amos, the tribe's first Indian preacher, she was born at the Pocknett family homestead on Quashnet Road in Mashpee in 1909 and lived in the spiritualist tradition of her family.

She attended schools in Mashpee and Cotuit and Dighton High School.

She lived most of her life in the village of Bournedale along the herring run from Great Herring Pond where the Harding family homestead was established. She started her married life on Martha's Vineyard, where she and her husband were caretakers of the Pimpneymouse Farm on Chappaquiddick. She also spent many memorable times with relatives and friends at the farmhouse and summer cottages she owned in Aquinnah in the shadow of the Gay Head Lighthouse.

During World War II, Mrs. Harding was active in the civilian effort to aid the military, working as a welder in the Quincy Shipyard. She was also a member of the Massachusetts Women's Defense Corps and served as Bournedale's air warden, responsible for getting residents to turn out their lights in the threat of an air strike.

Mrs. Harding was certified in restaurant and hotel management and had worked at the Howard Johnson hotel and restaurant and the A.R. Parker Restaurant, both in Buzzards Bay.

She was a member of the Massachusetts School Food Service Association and for 13 years was the director of food service for seven schools in the town of Bourne, after which she worked for the Cape Cod Nursing Home in Buzzards Bay.

The Hardings spent winters in Cassadaga, Fla., where she became supervisor of food service for the Volusia County Correctional Facility in DeLand, Fla.

She was a founding organizer of the Herring Pond Powwow in Cedarville in the early 1930s.

She was active in the Pondville Baptist Indian Church in Cedarville for many years and remained a benefactor until her death.

In the 1980s, when the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe developed a museum in the old Mable Avant house on the Mashpee River flume, Mrs. Harding spent summers interpreting tribal history there. She was a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe's Elders Council.

In 2001 she was honored at the annual Wampanoag Ball when she was given the Osamequen Award for her lifelong dedication to the cultural and historical preservation of the tribe.

Her hobbies were hunting and fishing. In the 1940s she caught a 42-pound striped bass in the Cape Cod Canal which was a record holder for the season.

She is survived by three sons, Lansing F. Pocknett of Mashpee, Charles D. Harding Jr. of Bournedale, and Wilson D. (Bud) Harding of Mattapoisett; two daughters, Sheila H. Besse of Bournedale and Eleanor F. Ringling of Waquoit: 17 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren, and six great-great-grandchildren.

A service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 3, at the Nickerson-Bourne Funeral Home, 40 MacArthur Boulevard in Bourne.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Elders Council of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, P.O. Box 1048, Mashpee, MA 02649.