Town of Wendell, Tribes Join Forces to ID Ceremonial Sites

A group of collaborating Native American tribes has offered to work with Massachusetts towns to identify landscapes of ceremonial or religious significance to their heritage, and Wendell is taking them up on that.

The history of indigenous ceremonial stone landscapes and the importance of maintaining their integrity and tranquility was explained to the Selectboard by Doug Harris, deputy tribal historic preservation officer for the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office in Charlestown, R.I.

Harris said these sites probably exist in every town in the state, and Wendell is no exception.

Read the full story by Dominic Poli in the Greenfield Recorder here.

WCAX: Conservation Groups Working to Protect Petroglyphs

petroglyphs Brattleboro

Eva McKend of Burlington’s WCAX Channel 3 News spoke with Vermont State Archaeologist Jess Robinson about the significance of petroglyph sites in Vermont, and specifically the fledgling effort to conserve those at Wantestegok – the West River in Brattleboro. Click on the first link for the video interview.

http://www.wcax.com/templates/2015_Sub_Video_Share?contentObj=444042093

Online article for this posting.

Maine Museum Preserves Wabanaki Birchbark Canoe

brunswick maine wabanaki birchbark canoe

One of the oldest-known Native American birch-bark canoes will go on display at a Maine historical society museum, possibly as early as this fall, after spending three decades in a barn. Carbon dating by the Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick shows the Wabanaki canoe was likely made sometime between 1729 and 1789. Museum records date the canoe to the mid-1700s.

The Wabanaki Confederacy is a group of Native American nations who lived primarily in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and parts of Atlantic Canada.

Larissa Vigue Picard, the historical society’s executive director, says the Wabanaki artifact is “priceless” and could be the oldest birch-bark canoe in existence. Native Americans have been making these canoes for 3,000 years. But only a few of the earliest ones still exist because birch bark is so fragile, says Laurie LaBar, chief curator of history and decorative arts at the Maine State Museum in Augusta.

The Pejepscot Historical Society came in possession of the 16-foot-long canoe in 1889. Museum officials say it was donated to the organization after being passed down through generations in the family of William Barnes, a sea captain from Harpswell, who received the canoe as a gift from a tribe. It’s spent the last three decades in a barn behind the museum, exposed to extreme temperatures and humidity, but is in relatively good shape.

Built by standards of the 1700s, it was held together with wooden pegs instead of nails or other modern fasteners brought to America by Europeans, according to the historical society’s Stephanie Ruddock. The canoes were popular with early explorers because they were much lighter than dugout canoes made from tree trunks, and could be carried.

A craftsman in Wellington will restore the 18th century vessel before it goes on display, situated in a specially crafted cradle.

Read the original article in The Maine Edge.

Not Relics of the Past: Conserving the West River Petroglyphs

 

west river petroglyph brattleboro annette spaulding

A group has hopes of purchasing land near petroglyphs under the Connecticut River (correction: Wantastekw/West River) with the goal of preventing future development on land it sees as culturally meaningful.

“This is all part of the Abenaki people trying to re-establish themselves… to raise awareness and reinforce the idea that these are not relics of the past,” said Rich Holschuh, a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs from Brattleboro.

“These are significant to people who are still here… people who still observe their significance and incorporate that into their lives because they are the descendants of these people.”

Abenaki people and other members of the public hope to preserve the land, keeping it open for hiking and other recreational activities. The project is also about protecting the Hogle Wildlife Sanctuary.

Read the full story by Chris Mays, with photography by Kristopher Radder, in the Brattleboro Reformer.

Protecting Mi’kmaq Petroglyphs in Bedford, Kejimkujik National Park

mi'kmaq star petroglyph bedford ns kukukwes

When Donna Morris looks at the Mi’kmaq petroglyphs at Kejimkujik National Park, she sees history. “There’s a picture of a caribou. There’s a picture of a little missionary man that goes back to the French era which would be the 1700s,” Morris, 65, explains. “So when I look at that, I think mostly of history. When I look at the caribou, I think about (a time) before the caribou and moose had disappeared.”

Morris, originally from the Indian Brook First Nation, has been working as an interpreter/coordinator at Kejimkujik since 2000. Part of her duties include offering tours of the Mi’kmaq petroglyphs, one of the park’s main attractions, to visitors and campers several times a week during the spring and summer months.

“Right now, the images are starting to fade a bit,” Morris explains. “We only have one particular area where we show the public and the other petroglyph sites are a little inaccessible due to the water and the distance of where they are.”

There are more than 500 Mi’kmaq petroglyphs at Kejimkujik. Some of them are estimated to be 800-1000 years old. All but one of the sites are blocked off from the general public. Park guides patrol the paths around the petroglyphs to make sure visitors obey the signage warning visitors not to enter and disturb the protected areas.

Read the full story by Maureen Googoo at Kukukwes.com.

Sacred Places: Indigenous Pictographs in Canada Being Vandalized

pictograph-site-canadian-flag-painted

Vandals are destroying ancient indigenous pictographs throughout Canada at an alarming rate and activists are trying to call attention to the desecration and its consequences.

As of late July vandals had defaced, and in some cases destroyed, indigenous pictographs in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Montreal in the last six years including some recent dramatic incidents.

“We are talking about indigenous heritage, oral traditions, cultural memory,” [Zawadzska] told CBC. “The sites are associated with sacred places, traditional territories, and traditional knowledge. They are living sites.”

Read the article in Indian Country Today.

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.

Phone Seminar with Doug Harris on Ceremonial Stone Landscapes

mass forest rescue doug harris CSL seminar

A phone seminar with Doug Harris, Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Narragansett Tribe. Sponsored by Mass Forest Rescue. Doug is one of the most active Native educators and activists in New England, advocating tirelessly for these oft-threatened traditional cultural properties. The reality is that there is still great disrespect, ignorance, and arrogance surrounding these sacred features within the landscape.

Sunday, March 26, 7 pm. Registration deadline: 3 p.m. March 26.

More on the Impacts of the Tennessee Gas CT Expansion Pipeline

Otis-State-Forest-old-growth

A comprehensive resource listing of the ongoing situation in Sandisfield/Otis, MA, along the planned route of the Kinder Morgan – Tennessee gas pipeline expansion project.

“FERC filings and newspaper articles are expressing some deep concerns over Kinder Morgan / Tennessee Gas’s (TGP”) plans for dealing with ceremonial stone landscape (“CSL”) features sacred to native peoples with cultural, religious and historical connections to land in Sandisfield, Massachusetts along the proposed route of the TGP Connecticut Expansion Project.

73 CSLs 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 CSLs will be destroyed during the construction of this pipeline.”

Full article at No Fracked Gas in Mass here.

A previous post on Sokoki Sojourn, as the story was developing, is here.

 

 

 

Protective Strategies for Ceremonial Stone Structures

ezra-stiles- 1762-cairn-gtbarrington

A short article by Lisa McLoughlin of the Nolumbeka Project, outlining a number of useful strategies to recognize and preserve existing Native stone assemblage sites. Ongoing land development and a general lack of public awareness, not to mention ignorance or dismissal, brings constant destructive pressure upon these ancient interactions of land and spirit.

“…I’d say that while many stone features have been destroyed, there are still thousands left. They are hiding in our back yards, in our state forests, along our waterways — everywhere in plain sight. Help others realize why they should be respectful of these when they find them, help them imagine what it might mean to have a religiously-important structure (e.g. something built to honor someone in your family) technically belong to someone else, or be at risk from vandals, pot-hunters, and developers. These stone structures are examples of how humans found a way to interact respectfully and in a mutually-beneficial way with nature. They are Natural Cultural nodes, blueprints for how we will need to think in the future if we are to survive and allow our natural world survive. They are important beyond the specific, and they should give us hope.”

Link to the article on No Fracked Gas in Mass.