For over 30 years, Jonathan James Perry has been a singer and dancer in the Wampanoag tradition. Ranging in styles from Eastern Social Songs to Northern Style powwow singing, Jonathan provides educational music and dance programs. He is currently serving his fifth, three-year term as Councilman for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). Jonathan works diligently to enforce and uphold the sovereignty of his tribal nation as well as to maintain cultural continuance among his tribal citizens.
Jonathan has over fifteen years of experience working within the Tribal Historic Preservation Office, with the responsibility of protecting and preserving cultural sites of significance throughout southern New England. He currently works for the Elders Council at the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation to ensure cultural continuity and preservation within the community. For over twenty years, he has provided research and historical interpretation of Eastern Woodlands Native culture and art, working with various non-profit and tribal organizations in exhibit design and cultural consultation based on traditional Wampanoag knowledge, symbolism, and values. Jonathan was awarded the 2017 First People’s Fund Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award for his work in reviving Wampanoag maritime traditions and mishoon building.
Jonathan also has a career spanning 20 years in film production and media, working closely with AMC, PBS, and the History Channel. His filmography most notably includes Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World (PBS, 2010), Desperate Crossing: the Untold Story of the Mayflower (AMC/History Channel 2006), and 10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America (History Channel, 2006). Jonathan has served as a cultural consultant, interviewee, actor, producer and costumer. In his role as a cultural consultant, he provides careful guidance on accurate portrayals of historic Wampanoag people, culture, and lifeways.
As a carver, Jonathan is grounded in the traditions of his ocean-going ancestors. His three-dimensional artwork ranges in size from large, hand-carved dugout ocean vessels, to stone effigy pipes and high-end copper jewelry. He considers designs by examining the raw materials closely, and draws his images from the grain, hues, and patina of wood, stone and copper. Jonathan enjoys using the materials and knowledge handed down from his ancestors to express his understanding of the natural world. Jonathan’s work embodies the refined quality of those of his ancestors, while still drawing upon his experience in a contemporary society. His pieces reflect balance within the Natural World, incorporating stories, effigies, and symbology of Wampanoag traditions.
An articulate and thoughtful speaker, Jonathan has lectured on the topics of Eastern Woodland art and traditions for over 15 years at both regional and national venues including the Peabody Essex Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, Harvard College, and Brown University. To learn more about Jonathan, visit his website.
The Cape Symphony is thrilled to have Jonathan join us for Mayflower and Beyond on Saturday, November 13th at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 14th. For more information and to purchase tickets for Mayflower and Beyond, visit capesymphony.org, call the Box Office at 508-362-1111, or visit 1060 Falmouth Road in Hyannis, MA. The Cape Symphony Box Office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.