Return of the Wolastoq: Giving a River Back Its Name

Ron-Tremblay-Photo-by-Liane-Thibodeau

The Wolastoq Grand Council is supporting their youth’s proposal to change the name of the Saint John River back to its original and proper name, the Wolastoq. Wolastoq means “beautiful and bountiful river” in the Wolastoq (Maliseet) language.

“In a sincere implication of ‘Truth and Reconciliation,’ Wolastoqewiyik soundly propose to reinstate the name ‘Wolastoq’ to the river commonly known as Saint John River,” says Ron Tremblay, the Wolastoq Grand Council Chief.

The call for individuals and groups to support the name change issued by the Wolastoq Grand Council states that, “Wolastoq is our identity,” and argues that, “scientific studies have now confirmed what our people have always known: water has memory. Once we address the river as ‘Wolastoq,’ this river will remember its original name.”

Read the full article at the New Brunswick Media Coop.

VPR: Coming To Terms With Vermont’s Dark History Of Eugenics

vpr-vt state hospital waterbury 1900

VPR’s Vermont Edition devoted June 7th’s broadcast to an interview with Dartmouth College senior Mercedes de Guardiola. Mercedes spoke on the State of Vermont’s Eugenics Survey at the State Archives just the week before (see Sokoki Sojourn’s post here). The original 6/7/17 VPR article includes 34 minutes of audio – please listen carefully by clicking here.

Vermont’s prominent role in the American eugenics movement of the early 20th century is an often overlooked part of the state’s history.  The state’s brutal history of sterilization, forced institutionalization, and racist pseudoscience is the focus of a new academic paper by our guest.

We’re joined by Dartmouth College senior Mercedes de Guardiola. Her thesis covering the eugenics movement in Vermont is “Blood has told”: The Eugenical Campaign in the Green Mountain State.

Broadcast was live on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Terra Nullius, Nobody’s Land, Free for the Taking

Wichita-Indians-Dwelling

The same story which has been told here, in n’dakinna. Vermont, in particular.

“The Wichita Indians are one more example of indigenous Americans who did not fit the stereotype of itinerant hunter-gatherers. That stereotype undergirds the legal theory that made Indian land available for settlement. The Americas, the argument goes, were sparsely populated by peoples who followed the game and annual ripening of berries and other foodstuffs available for gathering by savages who did not know how to raise their own food.

The hunter-gatherers lived in no fixed locations and so had no use for land titles. The empty lands that provided their sustenance were terra nullius, “nobody’s land,” free for the taking by sedentary farmers who represented civilization.”

Link to the story in Indian Country Today.

Goodbye, Columbus. Hello, Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

commons indigenous peoples day brattleboro

The [Brattleboro] Selectboard unanimously voted to approve a resolution proclaiming the second Monday in October of each year be named “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

During Representative Town Meeting in March, the body unanimously voted to recommend the Selectboard approve the proclamation.

At the April 18 regular Selectboard meeting, Board Chair Kate O’Connor read the document — written by Town Attorney Bob Fisher with edits by Rich Holschuh — into the record.

In addition to setting the date of the day, the proclamation says the Selectboard “heeds said advice and desires to recognize the Indigenous People of Wantastegok in Sokwakik — the immediate area now known as Brattleboro, Vermont — dwelling here prior to and during the colonization begun by Christopher Columbus in the Western Hemisphere[.]”

Read the full article by Wendy Levy in The Commons.

Workshop on Maine and Native People: Understanding Our Relationship

Maine-Wabanaki REACH will present a free workshop on April 29 from 9:30-4 in Brewer. This workshop has been well received across the state, with over 600 Mainers participating.

Maine and Wabanaki people are at an historical juncture in their long relationship; this workshop is an opportunity for non-Native people to reflect on our history in relation to Native people and our opportunities for the future. It includes a very brief history of US government relationships with Native people; awareness of white privilege; and an exploration of the concept of decolonization.

Maine-Wabanaki REACH is a cross cultural collaborative organization offering programming in Wabanaki and Maine communities. This workshop is co-sponsored by the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine.

Link to listing at Bangor Daily News.

Shutesbury, MA Warrant Initiative to Protect Native Sites

shutesbury ma town seal

Development pressures that could compromise sacred and ceremonial American Indian sites are prompting concerned residents to ask annual Town Meeting to mandate better protections and more thorough studies of Shutesbury land.

The petition, known as the “Resolution to Preserve Native American Historical Sites and Traditional Cultural Properties, Including Ceremonial Stone Landscapes,” was recently submitted for inclusion on the May 6 warrant by Friends of Shutesbury and the Oso:ah Foundation. Oso:ah stands for “planting a tree in the name of peace.”

James Schilling-Cachat of Leverett Road, a spokesman for the groups, said the article is important because the town is rich in sacred stone sites, yet they are at risk because little has been done to catalog them.

Read the full article by Scott Merzbach in the Greenfield Recorder.

Brattleboro Adopts Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Yesterday, Brattleboro’s Representative Town Meeting adopted Article 22, “…to proclaim the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in place of Columbus Day.” After a lengthy and thoughtful discussion, Moderator Lawrin Crispe called the question and it passed unanimously. Action on the article can be found in the Brattleboro Community TV footage at 7:49:15. Special thanks to my friend and fellow advocate Dr. Jess Dolan for her considerate testimony, along with other Members who offered backing.

Kchi wliwni – great thanks to everyone for your support, assistance, and conviction in bringing this positive change to our community. I hope we can look forward to growing awareness of a more truthful and restorative story, one that benefits all.

#ReclaimingWantastegok #decolonization

Peace.