Our Ceremonial Leaders
A Chief is a lifetime position. A Mohegan Chief is a Tribal member who, as a result of outstanding character, diplomacy, and leadership of the Tribe, has earned great veneration within the Tribe and has become preeminently qualified to represent the Tribe as its honorary Sachem. Our current Lifetime Chief, named in 2010, is Chief Many Hearts, Dr. Lynn Malerba, the first female Chief in the Mohegan Tribe's modern history.
The formal title of Medicine Woman was restored by the first modern Mohegan Elders Council in 1991. To become a Medicine Person, an individual must be trained and well-versed in Tribal customs. They must possess a combination of exceptional powers and abilities to be truly “good medicine” for the people.
For centuries, Mohegan healing and medicine traditions were passed down through a determined line of women, including Lucy Occum, Martha Uncas, Emma Baker and Gladys Tantaquidgeon. Although Medicine titles had been denounced by early Christian missionaries, these women kept those beliefs alive by learning from one another--generation to generation--a tradition which has continued to the present day Medicine Woman, Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel.
The title of Pipe Carrier is a long-honored Mohegan tradition. The Pipe Carrier is a Tribal member that is willing and able to carry and honor the pipe, and conduct pipe ceremonies in accordance with traditions established by previous Mohegan Pipe Carriers. Such ceremonies and milestone events include weddings, funerals, and Tribal blessings.
The Firekeeper is responsible for initiating and maintaining the two types of sacred fires utilized by the Mohegan Tribe—the funeral fire and the ceremonial fire.