Wabanaki Confederacy 2017 at Kejimkujik Mi’kmaki

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Hugh Akagi thought about the future of the Wabanaki Confederacy while the partial eclipse was happening Monday afternoon.

The chief of the Passamaquoddy people in Canada had travelled from his home in St. Andrews, N.B. to Kejimkujik National Park near Maitland Bridge, N.S., to take part in the Wabanaki Confederacy’s four-day annual summer gathering.

Akagi and 40 other Indigenous people gathered at the national park Monday afternoon to take part in a traditional ceremony to light the sacred fire to start the confederacy’s event. They all watched as several people spent nearly an hour trying to light the fire with a single flint during the partial eclipse.

“I’m thinking the fire needs to come to life, the confederacy needs to come back to life,” Akagi explained following the ceremony.

“The confederacy has gone through some pretty dark years, pretty rough times as every individual tribe, every Native person has,” he said.

“How do we rekindle that fire, how to bring it to life? How do we bring back the songs?” he asked.

Read the full story from kukukwes.com.

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Amherst College Hosts a Healing Fire for Survivors of Sexual Violence

amherst college healing fire gedakina

The Healing Fire Initiative for Survivors of Sexual Violence, their friends, families and allies. Sponsored in part by Gedakina.org.

Opening Ceremony 1:00 pm on April 13th

Fire will burn until 1:00pm on April 14th

People who come to the healing fire are welcome to make offerings to the fire.  Wooden shims and sharpies will be provided and you are welcome to bring letters and pictures of your own.  Amherst College is honored to partner with Gedakina Inc. in an effort to provide a space for healing with our campus community.  In 2002 Gedakina cofounded the Healing Fire Initiative for Survivors of Sexual Violence. The purpose of the Healing Fire Initiative is to offer survivors of sexual violence a welcoming and comforting place to break the isolation they may feel, build community with other survivors, advocates, and supporters, and begin or continue their healing process. This program is now a regional initiative with organizations and colleges/universities across the United States adopting this award-winning program.  The Healing Fire will begin with an opening ceremony at 1:00 pm onThursday April 13th, on the Freshman Quad (directly across from the Frost Library entrance.  The fire will be burning until 1:00pm on April 14th and will staffed by faculty, staff and crisis support center staff throughout the 24 hour period.  Please feel free to stay for any amount of time that feels right for you.  In respect for attendees we ask that no photography or social media include faces of people unless you have explicit permission.

“When I sit in the light of the Healing Fire, there are no voices that tell me I am to blame, that I am the only one, or that I deserve to be assaulted.  When I sit in the light of the Healing Fire, I see the many kind faces before me.  I hear their stories and feel the warmth and wisdom that we share.  There is a power hear tonight,  As this fire symbolizes the strength of survivors, it also symbolizes our passion, our righteous anger, our commitment and hope for a future where our children will be free  of abuse and violence.” – A quote from a Survivor who attended a Healing Fire in Burlington, Vermont

No Evidences of Indian Settlements in This Town

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The strangest statements may be found in the local newspapers, reflecting the absolute conviction of the times – in the face of self-stated evidence – that there was, and is, no notable indigenous presence.

From The Vermont Phoenix, Brattleboro, VT July 7, 1876.

Turner’s Fall – A Circle of Ripples

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Yesterday I came to this place, the Pukcommeagon, or Puckcommegon, as they say it was called, known today to most as the Green River. Just below the popular municipal swimming area on Nash’s Mill Road, on the west side of the Town of Greenfield (named after the river itself), less happy events transpired a long time ago. Here, on the morning of May 19th, 1676, a stone was cast in the waters of time and the ripples still pulse upon our lives.  At this fording of the river (probably rising much higher in mid-May three-and-a-half centuries ago), the commander of the colonial militia, retreating from his attack on the tribal people gathered at Peskeompskut, met his mortal end. Already a broken and gravely ill man, Capt. William Turner was struck here by pursuing warriors and died shortly thereafter on the western bank.

Gazing upon the lazy flow of the river in mid-September, it seemed an embodiment of the circular sweep of time: now, then, still to come. It is all here, sliding into the distance. A slow meander of hazy water, clear up close and opaque at a remove, sliding through the piercing light and the overhanging shadows. Slipping over the ancient Permian shoulders of fissured red conglomerate; alongside shifting sand shoals marked with the skitterings of four-footeds and long-legged flyers; passing silently beneath roads and walkways, heading southward to the Kwanitekw and great salty Sobakw. Up to the sky and down to the mountains. Water is life, the rivers connect the people. Circles and ripples, silence and murmurs, as above, so below.

My friend Joe Graveline, in speaking about the 1676 massacre at Peskeompskut (known historically as the Falls Fight – just 3 miles to the east), has said “at sunrise on that morning a light went out, on twelve thousand years” of community, in a place of peace and sharing. And so it did, abruptly and summarily. The disruption and confusion still reverberates and confuses those who remain. His observation gave me great pause and made me ponder the consequences and implications; it seems so harsh and final. But now I come away from the banks of the timeless river with another perspective, along the lines of the traditional firekeepers, whose responsibilities are to keep the sacred fire burning and to carry fire to the next place. Glowing embers, a small fragment of the original open flame, are secured in a safe receptacle, protected and nurtured until the next destination is reached. The sustaining flame of life has been hidden in this place but it is still here, held in the land and waters; we can see it if we look in the right direction, in the center.