Field Research for Battle of Great Falls/Wissantinnewag-Peskeomskut Continues

battlefield study recorder

“This year is the fifth year, and third phase, of the grant, which has studied the event of May 19, 1676, the Battle of Great Falls/Wissantinnewag-Peskeomskut that took place during King Philip’s War.

The Battlefield Grant Advisory Board — composed of 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 the region over the subsequent centuries.

“Montague Town Planner Walter Ramsey said one of the unique aspects of this study is the involvement of Native Americans. “We have a balanced approach to our research. We are working with different tribes of Native Americans that can inform history,” Ramsey said. “Because previously, all we had was the history written by the colonists.”

Brule added that by working with many people on the study, it’s enriched with more perspectives. “We’ve had one perspective for so long. Now this study is overseen and monitored by tribes that have a voice,” Brule said. “They are also being compensated for their expertise.”

Read the full article by Melina Bordeau at The [Greenfield] Recorder here.

Abenaki Fishing Places: Some Extrapolations

native net fishing

Fishing played an important role in the lives of the Abenaki/Aln8bak within their home riverscapes,  in a multitude of interconnected ways. The anadromous and catadromous migrations of salmon, shad, alewives, herring, and eels were especially significant. The seasonal cycles, the flush of spring and the awakening of earth’s gifts, the dependable and welcome return of the fish nations, the birth of new life… all of these give witness to a recognition that engenders a careful honoring of pervasive relationships.  Most of these relationships were severed or severely compromised with the arrival of the European colonizers, bringing a culture of separation and exploitation with the building of dams, roads, and bridges, and the choking and fouling of the rivers with logging, mining, industry, and large-scale agriculture. With this calamitous interruption, the People themselves were deeply affected as well.

Though most of the fish are gone in present-day 2019, the places where these harvests of the spring’s vast arrival of swimmers (and with eels, in the autumn) occurred are still honored and celebrated. Yet while these places remain, many of them are a shadow of their former vibrant, powerful selves, overtopped with mills, dams, bridges and blasted and channelized into ill straits in the service of commerce and convenience.

Every group of Abenaki has their home river (n’sibo – my river) and every river has these places, the Sokwakiak among them. In Sokoki country along the Kwenitekw, some of the fishing places are at the Rock Dam/Rawson’s Island/Montague, Mskwamakok/Peskeompskut/Turners Falls, the Azewalad Sibo/Ashuelot River, Vernon Falls/ Great Bend/Cooper’s Point, the confluence with Wantastegok/West River at Brattleboro, and Kchi Pontekw/Bellows Falls. At these places are found a set of conditions that act to focus the fish at constricting, usually rockbound features such as falls, rapids, narrows, and channels. Accompanying these settings is the tumultuous energy of rushing, swirling, shimmering, splashing  water in full voice.

8manosek peskeompskut kwenitekw rock dam

The convergence of spirit, the elements, and resurgent prolific life – epitomized by  over-arching sky, shaped and shelving bedrock, sunlight and reflection, deep and strong currents – create a place of exchange. Spirit is able to move between worlds more readily here; the edges between the underworld of earth and water, existence on the surficial plane, and the above world of sky, blur and cross over. Things are in a state of flux, moving and mixing, intersecting. The constant change of creation is present here, closer and better accessible. This is one reason that messages of acknowledgement in the form of petroglyphs are often found at these places. These ancient representations, placed by medawlinnoak, medicine people, as they worked to seek balance with and through the presence of spirit concentrated there, continue to speak their opportune truths into the present. We see and hear them even now, carrying through the dysphoria and disturbance of the modern milieu.

The Aln8ba8dwaw8gan (Western Abenaki) word for the action of fishing is 8maw8gan, with the root being 8m- signifying “to lift.” On a pragmatic level this can be seen as a simple reference to the fish harvesting techniques of using a net, or a spear, or a hook and line. On another level it speaks of active, upward transition from one place to another.

The great waves of sustaining life that swam up the rivers and streams in Sigwan – the Spring, the “emptying or pouring out” – in the form of salmon, shad, and their kin – were and are an embodiment of this free exchange of spirit, in the very real form of cyclic return of abundant sustenance. Converging on these significant places, met there by the Aln8bak (the Abenaki people) and joined by other relations – the feeding eagles, osprey, gulls, bear, and otter –  the swimmers were lifted up – 8mawa – from the under[water]world into the surface world of the Aln8ba, at that juncture transitioning into another form for the good of the people.

The recognition of this great transformative gift necessarily results in an outpouring of gratitude and celebration, with reciprocal honoring (giving back) to the fish people and the life-giving river waters themselves. All of this as a ritual acknowledgement of “the way it is” – the connected circles of creation, the constancy of change, and the intention to find balance in the midst of it. If these agreements are not honored, and respectful acknowledgement made in the form of ceremonial practice (song, dance, gifts, prayer, proscribed or prescribed activities) it is seen as a breach of conduct. It truly is unconscionable to not do so; that this approach of reciprocal relationship worked well and sustainably for thousands of years is ample testament to its efficacy. That these same processes are breaking down around us now is a corroborating witness to the thoughtlessness of the mindset that replaced it.

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 .

With Andy Fisk for CRC Valley Gives at the Rock Dam

One of a series of Facebook Live on-site interviews on May 1, 2018, for the CT River Conservancy’s “Valley Gives” fundraising campaign. We are at the Rock Dam site, on the Kwenitew below the Great Falls at Peskeompscut/Mskwamakok, now Turners Falls in Montague, MA, with very high spring run-off.

Day of Remembrance: Great Falls Massacre 5.19.18

day of remembrance may 19 2018

Long River, Deep History

Long River Deep History poster

A discussion with Lisa Brooks, PhD, “Our Beloved Kin”, and Christine Delucia, PhD, “Memory Lands”.

Let The Landscape Speak

indigenous ceremonial stone landscapes presentation schedule

Please note that the May 19th appearance with Doug Harris is part of the Day of Remembrance Commemoration of the 342nd Anniversary of the Great Falls Massacre and the 14th Anniversary of the Reconciliation Ceremony between the Narragansett and the Town of Montague. The evening before, May 18, 7:30 p.m., our special guests will be authors Lisa Brooks and Christine DeLucia whose books about King Philip’s War were recently published. Read more on our website, www.nolumbekaproject.org. Reminder: Christine DeLucia will be giving a presentation at GCC on Wednesday, April 4, at 7 p.m. More on website and Facebook.

Turners Falls Still Divided Over New Team Name

turners falls athletics

It’s been over a year since Turners Falls High School decided to remove the Indian as its mascot, but some community members are having a difficult time letting go.

Overall, the Logo Task Force received 197 suggestions for “Indian” and multiple suggestions for “Pride” and “Tribe,” according to Task Force member Alana Martineau.

After a preliminary screening, the task force gave the Gill-Montague School Committee a list of 136 potential mascot names to review — which led to a lengthy debate about the appropriateness of “Tribe.”

Read the full article by Christie Wisniewski in the Greenfield Recorder.

Discovery Center & Nolumbeka Project: Full Worm Moon Gathering March 3

nolumbeka maple traditions discovery center

Join Leah Hopkins (Narragansett/Niantic) and Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) as they demonstrate and teach about the various traditional Native cooking methods of the Coastal Northeast.  Leah and Elizabeth will share the recipes and cooking techniques of their families as well as the nutritional content of traditional foods.  They will describe their cultural perspectives on these dishes and speak to the historical influence that Northeastern Native food has had on modern cuisine.  This program will have a heavy focus on the tradition of maple sugaring as an important and much-celebrated gift of the early spring.

Leah explains, “We tend to have our own community celebrations and feasts on the full moons……..so March 3 would be the best date, as this is the day after our Maple Sugaring Moon celebrations, and Elizabeth and I do a lot of interesting programming with regards to maple sugaring…. and a cooking demonstration using maple as a staple ingredient.”  This will be an indoor event with the cooking on a hotplate instead of an open fire. Due to liability issues, members of the public are not permitted to taste the food.

Known as a culture bearer, educator, traditional artist, and performer Leah Hopkins provides professional programs and performances to both Native and non-Native communities, institutions and organizations.  Leah is strongly rooted in her traditions passed down through her parents, grandparents and extended family, resulting in a strong passion for educating Native peoples and facilitating programs to increase cultural competency.  Her professional work experience includes the proprietorship of her own cultural consultation business as well many years in the museum and tribal youth education field. Leah is a seamstress and beadwork artist as well as a traditional Eastern Woodlands singer and dancer and a founding member of the Kingfisher Theater.  She has performed both nationally and internationally and is looking forward to further traveling to share and educate about her Northeastern Native culture.  Growing up near in the bountiful Northeast, Leah has used the many gifts of the ocean, forest and field to provide her family with traditional nutrition, and has been preparing feasts of traditional foods for her community most of her life.

Elizabeth James-Perry is an enrolled member of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe on the island of Noepe (Martha’s Vineyard).  Her fine art work focuses on Northeastern Woodlands Algonquian artistic expressions: wampum carving, weaving and natural dyeing.  As a member of a Nation that has long lived on and harvested the sea, Elizabeth’s is a perspective that combines art and an appreciation for Native storytelling and traditional environmental knowledge in her ways of relating to coastal North Atlantic life.

The Nolumbeka Project usually holds the annual mid-winter Full Snow Moon Gathering in February, but every 19 years there is no full moon during the month so we moved our celebration to March. This is the explanation of the Full Worm Moon from The Farmer’s Almanac: “At the time of this spring Moon, the ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins. This is also known as the Sap Moon, as it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins.”

This event is co-sponsored by the Nolumbeka Project, DCR, and Jaime and Senani Babson. Poster by Nur Tiven, Spektre Designs

Turners Falls Mascot Task Force Still Welcoming Submissions

turners-falls-athletics-fields

More than 100 submissions have been received about a new mascot for Turners Falls High School as the Gill-Montague Regional School District moves toward a decision on a replacement for the Indian.

The task force gathering mascot suggestions is still accepting nominations, which so far have ranged from the old Indian logo to elementary school submissions like “coyotes” or “blueberries’’ — which drew a chuckle from school committee members who heard an update this week.

Many people in the community opposed dropping the Indian mascot after some Montague and Gill residents called for a change in late May 2016, arguing the mascot was racist. After a number of discussions and forums, the school board voted to remove the Indian in February 2017, and reaffirmed the decision following a nonbinding referendum in May 2017 that supported restoring the Indian.

Read the full update article by Christie Wisniewski at the Greenfield Recorder.