Homeless and in financial straits, “Pete, the Indian,” and his sister, Mary, the only two surviving members of the once-powerful Micmac tribe in this part of the country, tonight obstinately clung to two priceless, tribal relics while a community campaign was launched to provide them with a new home.
Their Winter st. home destroyed by fire in September, Peter Augustine, 66, and Mary Augustine, 53. are now living with neighbors, their future an uncertainty.
Forbidden by centuries-old tradition of their people to part with the heirlooms, reputed to be worth thousands of dollars, the brother and sister clung desperately to an ancient silver crown and a similarly old brass crucifix, nearly their sole possessions.
Stirred by their plight, townspeople under Mrs. S. Charles Phillips of 13 Howard st., are organizing a drive to raise about $1500 for a new home.
The silver crown has been identified as an authentic tribal piece by Frederick P. Orchard, assistant curator of archeology of Peabody Museum. Harvard University. An offer of $2000 has been made on behalf of Harvard. The crucifix is more than 300 years old. the Augustines said.
A tribal tradition, the couple say, prevents them from selling the relics. However, they can be given away without violating tradition. The brother and sister have lived here nearly 50 years.
Until eight years ago, Augustine was employed by the electric light department of the town. He was pensioned off at $7 per week.
“Pete” is a familiar and loved figure to followers of Norwood High School sports events. For years he has traveled with the teams of the school in full Indian regalia.