Indigenous tribes called Franklin County home long before European colonizers landed in North America. Native American Heritage Day, observed since 2008 on the day after Thanksgiving, is an opportunity to recognize and discuss that history.
“We have this single day, Friday, Native American Heritage Day, which was designated by an act of Congress in 2008 — relatively recently,” said Rich Holschuh, who is from the Elnu Abenaki tribe. Abenaki homeland ran north to the St. Lawrence River in Canada, and south to Deerfield, with Turners Falls being “the nexus for all tribes in that area,” according to Holschuh. [note: I (Rich) am not a citizen of Elnu, but I do work extensively with them and others in the contemporary community.]
Holschuh also serves on the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs.
The resolution for Native American Heritage Day, signed by President George W. Bush, acknowledges Native people “for their contributions to the United States as local and national leaders, artists, athletes, and scholars.” Local advocates focus on a darker side of American history.
“It is with great sadness that we look back, just on the last 340 years, since this peaceful area of shared resources was witness to a terrible massacre of refugees from the regional war that was going on over who would control the land,” said David Detmold, representing the Nolumbeka Project, a non-tribal organization advocating for New England’s Native American tribes.
Detmold referred to The Battle of Great Falls, a decisive fight of King Philip’s War that took place on the banks of the Connecticut River between present-day Gill and Montague. He noted the Nolumbeka Project is part of a group studying the battle through a National Parks Service grant.
Melody Walker Brook is an educator, activist and artist, currently an adjunct professor at Champlain College. She was previously an adjunct professor at Johnson State College where she taught “Native American Worldview and Spirituality”; “Native American History and Culture”; and “Abenakis and Their Neighbors”. She gives lectures on a variety of topics, including Abenaki history, women’s issues, and Abenaki political history. She has done ground breaking research on Abenaki Spirituality and is heavily involved in the Abenaki cultural revitalization movement. She works with museums, lectures in both the K-12 and collegiate level classroom on topics relating to the Eastern Woodlands and indigenous history.
Come early to get one more chance to win one of the beautiful raffle items donated by the wonderful Pocumtuck Homelands Festival vendors last August. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.
The University of Massachusetts, Amherst second-year graduate students in the History of Art & Archictecture Department invite you to an exciting upcoming event:
Strength, Unity, Power: Contemporary Practices in Native Arts
This symposium explores the cutting edge of what artists, museum professionals, and scholars today are doing to promote justice for Native American communities, both in the art world and beyond. The keynote address will be delivered by contemporary Native American artist, Wendy Red Star, and will be followed by a panel discussion withscholars, Dr. Sonya Atalay and Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, moderated by Dr.Dana Leibsohn.
The symposium is a free event hosted by the History of Art & Architecture department’s second year graduate students. Symposium Date & Time: 15 September, 4pm-6pm, Location: ILC S240 Reception Date & Time: 15 September, 6pm-7pm, Location: Campus Center 165
As 64-year-old Lenny Novak of Wakefield, N.H. tended his booth at the Pocumtuck Homelands Festival Saturday, he reconnected with old friends and shared stories with new acquaintances.
For Novak and his girlfriend Kelly Mowers, the festival is rather like an Old Home Day for Native Americans and for those who share an interest in their culture. “It’s like a family,” he said. “Everybody’s like-minded here. They appreciate the native ways.”
Novak, a member of the Abenaki tribe, and Mowers, of the Micmac tribe, were two of the vendors operating a booth along Unity Park’s waterfront Saturday, immersing passersby in Native American culture, art, music, food and history.
See the full article by Shelby Ashline in the Greenfield Recorder.
Photography by Matt Burkhartt (that’s my son Gavin with his buddy Alden!).
The 4th Annual Pocumtuck Homelands Festival, a celebration of Native American Art, Music, and Culture, takes place on Saturday, August 5, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Unity Park Waterfront in Turners Falls, MA. The event is free, family friendly, fun, educational, accessible, and of interest to all ages.
Performances include live traditional, original, and fusion music, a story teller, and three drum groups. There will be outstanding Native American artists, and games, activities and crafts for children. Also featured will be primitive skills demonstrations, a books and authors section, and condensed history lessons about Great Falls. The Mashantucket-Pequot archaeology team will be on site for the second time to analyze early contact period artifacts people bring to them. And Tim MacSweeney, keeper of the website Waking Up On Turtle Island, can help explain the significance of threatened sites considered sacred to the tribes such as in Shutesbury and Sandisfield. Food will be available, including Native American fare.
Performers will be Hawk Henries, Nipmuc flute player and flute maker; the Kingfisher Singers and Dancers, Wampanoag from the Mashpee, Aquinnah, and Herring Pond communities; story teller Larry Spotted Crow Mann, Nipmuc; the Medicine Mammals Singers; and Lee Mixashawn Rozie, who uses instrumental virtuosity and stories to illuminate the indigenous and African roots of “American” music. Be energized by the presence of three drums: Chief Don Stevens and the Nulhegan-Coosuk Band of the Abenaki Singers, plus returning favorites, the Black Hawk Singers (Abenaki), and the Visioning B.E.A.R. Circle Intertribal Coalition Singers.
Organized by the Nolumbeka Project: Saturday, May 20, 2017 at the Great Falls Discovery Center, 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA.
• Doors open at 10 a.m. We are offering ample time during the day and between presentations for conversations, personal reflections and individual touring of this historically significant district of Great Falls and the 341st anniversary of the battle that changed the course of King Philip’s War
• 10:30 a.m. – Presentation by Nolumbeka Project Board members David Brule and Nur Tiven.
• 1 p.m – Ceremony officiated by Tom Beck, Medicine Man and Ceremonial Leader
of the Nulhegan – Coosuk Band of the Abenaki Nation.
• Special guests during the day include Loril Moondream of Medicine Mammals and Strong Oak of Visioning B.E.A.R. Circle Intertribal Coalition.