Discussions For and With Massachusetts Native Peoples

A Reassessment for Our Times

September 29, 2015
by cedricwoods
0 comments

Summary of First Roundtable Discussion in Worcester

What follows is a bulleted summary of the first listening session and roundtable held in Worcester and hosted by the Nipmuc Tribe on August 29, 2015. In addition to the presentations from the Nipmuc Tribe and the Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe, numerous audience members (both native and non-native) shared their thoughts, concerns, solutions and questions. The summary represents those comments and is categorized by general headings, rights and issues.

Lands

  • The loss of lands results in the loss of culture
  • Return of land back to tribal communities is of primary importance
  • Enfranchisement of native peoples in mid-1800s was also about the taking of lands
  • Steering excess state lands to native communities

Children

  • Concern over removal of our children
  • Ensuring that native youth know where they fit in; connecting them to their native community

Health/Food

  • Want to return to healthy lifestyle that is natural
  • Return of land to engage in sustainable agricultural practices
  • Revive how ancestors grew food and preserved lands
  • Concerns over substance abuse and other forms of abuse

Relationship with Government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

  • Commonwealth ignores us
  • Concept of law/equality and fairness is missing from government
  • Relationship between tribe and Commonwealth in non-existent
  • Amend Executive Order 126 to reference the Pocasset Reservation

Community

  • Difficultly staying connected with community which is sometimes dispersed
  • Having access to transportation to stay connected and attend community events
  • Desire for closer community

Federal Acknowledgment/Recognition

  • Federal recognition, with its accompanying regulations and policies hinders the exercise of tribal sovereignty

Survival of Tribal Communities and Native Peoples

  • Ability of native peoples to survive is amazing, however, still obstacles to survival
  • But goal is to live, not just survive: “We are not able to live; we have been surviving for so long, we just want to live”
  • Recognition of survival of native clan families forced to live in untraditional ways

Education

  • Desire to learn more about history, laws and policies impacting native communities and individuals

September 9, 2015
by cedricwoods
7 Comments

Glad I Was So Wrong!

When I wrote the grant to fund Native Americans and the Social Contract: A Reassessment for Our Times, I optimistically estimated we would have 40-50 people participate in each event.

Boy was I ever wrong!

We had 61 people in attendance and 9 on-line via google meeting during our first event. There were Native and non-Native audience members, the very young, elders, middle aged, and young adults. I was surprised by the turnout (I guess social media promotion does work!) and how engaged everyone was with the topics discussed. From land loss, challenges in the preservation of communities via child welfare issues, to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, many people expressed their views during and after the event about how the consequences of the Earle Report and the subsequent Enfranchisement and Allotment Act impact their lives as Native Peoples in the 21st century.

Many also expressed hope that perhaps, as a result of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and this dialogue, that a different and better path might be made for the future.

Most people stayed for the entire event and, in the evaluation forms they turned in, unanimously agreed that they believed the money to fund the event had been well spent. They appreciated the efforts of Cheryll Holley, David White, Nicole Friederichs, Cedric Woods, Bette Toney, and Ellie Page. Many also noted their favorite part was the presentation by the Nipmuc youth, Keely Curliss and Nia Holley, both of whom shared with the audience their thoughts on a variety of issues, including land, sovereignty, recognition and the health of their communities. Several youth in the audience echoed Keely and Nia’s wish to be more connected with their Native communities and the difficulty growing up (and now) of being able to get to community gatherings and events. Finally, many expressed an interest in learning more about the history, law, and policies that impact them. In response, several professors in attendance offered to present to communities and open up their classes.

The passion with which the youth expressed their hopes for the future of their communities was infectious. Even after the event ended, people stuck around, and that’s saying a lot after two hours of presentation, questions, answers, and comments.

Much gratitude goes out to the Nipmuc communities for hosting this event in their territory, and the Pocasset Wampanoag for presenting as well.

I hope you are able to join us at one of our three remaining events.  The schedule is as follows:

Schedule #2

 

This project is generously sponsored by:

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