Northfield MA: Day of Indigenous History and Culture

bryan blanchette abenaki musician

Members of the Abenaki nation will bring people into the history and culture of local indigenous groups on Saturday, July 21, at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center. This “day of history,” from noon to 3 p.m., is the second in the Northfield Historical Commission’s series on “bringing to light the native history of our area” that encompasses a period of at least 12,000 years, Commissioner Lisa McLoughlin said.

Roger Longtoe, Chief of the Elnu band of the Abenaki nation, will talk about local history from the 17th century up to modern times, using period-authentic “things that we would have had in the 17th century,” like muskets, spears and bows and arrows, he said. Longtoe specializes in what he calls “living archaeology” of the 17th and 18th centuries, using materials and traditional stories to help people understand the way Abenaki peoples lived when they occupied vast regions in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and eastern New York.

But, “a lot of people have questions about modern history, too,” he said. Now, the Abenaki nation has about 15,000 members and is mostly based in Vermont, with reservations in Quebec. The Elnu band has about 60 members and is based in southern Vermont, making it the southernmost group of the larger nation.

Rich Holschuh, representative of the Elnu band, will lead a walk through Northfield Mountain’s trails where he will try to communicate the traditional understanding of the environment.

“I want to talk about the very real hands-on things in front of us, and then I want to talk about the relationship of the people to this place,” Holschuh said. “All of the various aspects out there in the natural world are considered to be a part of you, literally a relation to you. So you’re going to interact with them as equals. It’s not simply a harvesting or a taking, but there’s also a giving, a reciprocity. It’s a two-way relationship. “Some of these things would be very practical,” like identifications of plants, Holschuh said, “but you’re also perhaps going to learn a lesson from the plant about how it is, why it’s growing there, how it’s growing there.”

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Bryan Blanchette will play traditional and new songs in both Abenaki and English.

Also, an update on a National Park Service-funded study of King Philip’s War will be discussed by David Brule, president of the Nolumbeka Project. The Nolumbeka Project advocates for a more thorough understanding of indigenous history up to and including the colonial era. The study, now in its third phase of funding, is focusing on the Battle Turners Falls.

See the original article by Max Marcus in the Greenfield Recorder.

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Unearthing the New Narratives of 1676

unearthing the new narratives of 1676

As many of you know, David Brule, president of the Nolumbeka Project, is also the coordinator of the National Park Service Battlefield Protection Program Study here in the Wissatinnewag-Peskeompskut area and helped organize this informational presentation.  The session is hosted by the Battlefield Grant Advisory Board which is composed of five towns and four tribes.

The Aquinnah Wampanoag, the Chaubunagungamaug Band of Nipmuck Indians, the Elnu Abenaki, and the Narragansett Indian Tribe, as well as Historical Commissioners from Montague, Greenfield, Gill, Northfield and Deerfield have been meeting monthly over the past five years, coordinating this battlefield study of the complex massacre and counter-attack in 1676 that has marked our region over the subsequent centuries.

6:30 — 7:15 P.M. A power point presentation will focus on the final Phase II archaeological report of the Research Team of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. The Team did extensive field research on the battlefield terrain stretching from Riverside through Factory Hollow and into the Nash’s Mills area of Greenfield. Their discoveries and new interpretations of the event add to the growing body of knowledge, fueling high local and regional interest in the event of May 19, 1676.
7:15 — 8:30 P.M. The second part of the program will feature a panel of four Tribal Historical Preservation Officers and Christine De Lucia, noted author and assistant professor of History at Mt Holyoke College. They will address the topic of “Unearthing the New Narratives of 1676” and will welcome questions and opinions from the public.   preseThis Public Information Session is sponsored by the Montague Planning Department, and the National Park Service Battlefield Protection Program.  For more information call 413-863-3200×207 or www.kpwar.org .

Presentation Discusses Native Relationship with Connecticut River

chief roger longtoe sheehan northfield ma crc

Though the seventh day of the Connecticut River Conservancy’s From Source to Sea journey didn’t go quite as planned, no one seemed to mind. A presentation was meant to be on the water, but organizers say the new boat was not certified by the Coast Guard in time for the event. So instead, the group held the presentation at the Northfield Mountain Recreation Center’s picnic area on the shore of the Connecticut River.

Roger Longtoe, Rich Holschuh and David Brule all spoke during the one and a half hour event on Sunday afternoon. Longtoe and Holschuh are from the Elnu Abenaki tribe out of Vermont, and Brule is the president of the local Nolumbeka project, a non-tribal Native American organization that promotes education on Native issues.

All three men discussed how their tribes and organizations intersect with the river. Longtoe discussed its previous use as a “grocery store” where local tribes were able to get fish, as well as the areas along the river that were used as camps and meeting places between local tribes. “It’s a place where you gather, come and eat, and they’ve been doing this for a very long time,” he said.

Holschuh talked about the Abenaki language and how it relates to the indigenous culture around the area. Brule discussed more recent events and history around the river.

Andrew Fisk, executive director of the Conservancy, said incorporating Native American viewpoints into the ongoing work on the river has been helpful. He said the Conservancy’s main job is to listen and understand other points of view. “This has been incredibly informative for us, to listen and hear about how they see the river,” he said.

Fisk said the goal is to continue to celebrate the river and tackle the challenges surrounding it, especially related to the dams along the river and ensuring there is a smaller ecological footprint left behind.

The From Source to Sea journey began on July 16 and ends on July 30. It started at the mouth of the river, Fourth Connecticut Lake and will end at the Long Island Sound.

Hike the Pocumtuck Ridge

pocumtuck ridge hike nolumbeka

From Nur Tiven and Nolumbeka Project:

Dear Friends,
Please join me and David Brule from the Nolumbeka Project on Saturday, May 13th, for a half-day hiking and Native history tour along the Pocumtuck Ridge Trail.  The PRT passes through beautiful highland wilderness and riverside forests, offering some great vistas along the way. On the walk, we’ll learn about the history of the region and it’s original inhabitants and stewards, the Pocumtuck people. The history will span before, during, and after contact with the European immigrants.

ROUTE
We’ll start in Great Falls (Turners Falls) and walk south on the PRT through the wilderness of Greenfield’s Rocky Mt. Park, Highland Park, Connecticut River, Deerfield River, ending at Woolman Hill Conference Center in Deerfield (Approx 5 miles)

At 6:30pm, we’ll end with a talk at Woolman’s Meeting Hall, open to the public, with more in-depth historical information and narratives from the research of the Nolumbeka Project.  By Donation, Open to Everyone (must be able to walk 5 miles along mostly gentle terrain)

Questions? Please email me! I hope you’ll be able to join us!
Nur Tiven                                  nurhabib1@gmail.com

 

Nolumbeka Project Files Letter of Support for Narragansett THPO with FERC

nolumbeka-project-header
January 12, 2017

Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 888 First Street NE, Room 1A Washington, DC 20216Re: Docket No. CP14-529, TGP Connecticut Expansion Project
Support for Narragansett Indian Tribal Consultation on Traditional Cultural Properties

Dear Secretary Bose:

The Nolumbeka Project is a non-profit corporation with an all-volunteer board whose mission is to preserve, protect, and educate the public about Native American cultural resources in what is now called New England and the Northeastern United States. We are writing to voice deep concerns over plans of Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas (“TGP”) that will result in the destruction of ceremonial stone landscape (“CSL”) features sacred to Tribes with cultural, religious and historical connections to land in Sandisfield, Massachusetts along the proposed route of the TGP Connecticut Expansion Project (FERC docket #CP14-529, the “Project”). As TGP is well aware, 73 CSL features were identified in an on-the-ground survey conducted by several Tribes in the second half of 2016.

According to Deputy Tribal Historical Preservation Officer Doug Harris of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, a full one-third of these CSL features will be destroyed during the construction of this pipeline. Although some have suggested that it would be acceptable to disassemble the features and reassemble them when construction of the Project is completed, Mr. Harris explains that their disassembly would be an interruption of the prayers placed there. According to Mr. Harris, “Then what you have is an artistic replica of something that was spiritual. Once you remove the stones, the spiritual content is broken.”

On December 29, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) sent a “Notification of Adverse Effect” to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s Office of Federal Agency Programs, seeking resolution of this matter. FERC’s Environmental Assessment (“EA”), issued in 2015, included alternative routes that may have avoided many of the CSLs, but FERC approved the primary route before the CSL survey was undertaken. Thus, the FERC certificate was issued in violation of the implementing regulations of the National Historic Preservation Act (the “NHPA Regulations”), which require that the agency “complete the section 106 process ‘prior to the issuance of any license.’” 36 CFR 800.1(c). This regulation also makes clear that the purpose of initiating the section 106 process early in project planning is to ensure “that a broad range of alternatives may be considered during the planning process”. 36 CFR 800.1(c).

Disturbance or destruction of these sites would further erase traces of a part of our history, and a still living segment of our culture that is already too often ignored – that of this region’s first peoples.

To disturb these ceremonial features is damaging to the religious sensibilities of our Native citizens who still embrace the beliefs of their forebearers. Proceeding without full Tribal participation “in the resolution of adverse effects” is an unconscionable act that also violates the NHPA Regulations, specifically 36 CFR 800.2(c)(2)(ii)(A).

Regardless of our heritage, all citizens of our region would be poorer for the loss of these original historic sites, and their destruction should not be allowed.

FERC should not allow the Project to proceed before this matter is fully and properly resolved. Furthermore, Sandisfield Taxpayers Opposing the Pipeline (STOP) filed a request for a rehearing of FERC’s order issuing the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity in April of 2016 that has yet to be acted upon. FERC should grant the rehearing request without further delay, taking into consideration issues raised by the Narragansett Indian Tribe, STOP, and others over the course of the FERC proceeding.

David Brule
Nolumbeka Project Co-President

cc:        Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Office of Federal Agency Programs;
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Nolumbeka Project Calls for Change in Turners Falls Mascot

turners-falls-indians-uniform

The Nolumbeka Project, the non-tribal organization for New England’s Native American tribes, is calling for the end of the Turners Falls High School’s current mascot, the “Indians.” The statement, which says the organization collaborates with the Nipmuck Nation, the Narragansett, the Aquinnah Wampanoag, the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans and Elnu Abenaki, said all of the tribes do not condone the use of Native American symbols as team mascots or nicknames.

The statement comes as a response to public debate on whether the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee should change the high school’s mascot. The School Committee is set to debate the issue on Tuesday.

David Brule, the co-president of the Nolumbeka Project and a Turners Falls High School graduate, said that while many in the Turners Falls community believe the mascot honors the local Native American culture, it is not the place of those in the community who aren’t Native American to decide for those who are. “Our position is that the tribes are the sole judges of what ‘honors’ them or what does not,” says a statement released by Brule. “We understand the non-tribal traditions and misplaced pride of sports teams using Indian symbols and mascots, but the time has come to let it go.”

Read the full story in the Greenfield Recorder.

1676 and Beyond: Tribes, Race, and Untold Histories

A flyer for the upcoming presentation by David Tall Pine White and David Brule to be held at Greenfield Congregational Church on November 7, 2015, from 10 am ’til 12:30 pm. Now what? –  a contemporary perspective through a historical lens.

flyer 11-7-15 white brule greenfield