Tim McSweeney posited this question on one of his Facebook Pages, prompted by the discussion posted by Lauret Savoy, professor of geology and environmental science at Mount Holyoke College. Lauren cited this at A Stone’s Throw on the Terrain.org site, in a post entitled Walking Thoughts on a Frozen Pond. Tim reposted this entry on his blog. It’s one inquiry in a list of several which Lauret says she asks her students “to pause and consider… as we explore the environmental history of this country.” I find this self-questioning foundational.
In line with his post, I offered my place-based comment to Tim:
“There is no need to question the land, the place where one finds oneself. The answers are all freely available – Creation is always speaking and being. Rather, aways question oneself. Am I listening? Can I see? Am I present? Who else is here? Am I fulfilling my responsibilities as a part of the Great Mystery or have I (again) separated myself ?”
Lauret offers: “In order to remember, one must also forget.” This is to be human and to be aware that we don’t know all the stories.
From the New York Times shortlist of President-elect Trump’s possibilities for Secretary of the Interior, who will oversee the BIA, National Parks and Forests, public lands and waters, cultural and historic sites, and rule-making affecting all of the above and more.
Elnu Tribe of Abenaki has confirmed its support for the Mi’maki community at Sipekne’katik on the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia, as they stand in solidarity against the Alton Gas salt cavern storage project. A letter has been sent to the Grandmothers expressing unity and understanding, and upholding the shared responsibilities of the Wabanakiak in their homelands, N’dakinna.
See this post for more background.
Maine-Wabanaki REACH will present a free Ally Workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at 175 Park St., Augusta, ME. This workshop has been well received across the state with more than 400 Mainers participating, according to a news release from the organization.
The workshop is an opportunity for non-Native people to reflect on the shared history and future with Native people. The workshop will include a very brief history of U.S. government relationships with Native people, awareness of white privilege, and ally responsibilities. Space is limited and registration is required. To register, email Barbara@mainewabanakireach.org or call 951-4874.
Maine-Wabanaki REACH is a cross cultural collaborative organization of Wabanaki and Maine people working towards truth, healing and change to support Wabanaki self-determination.
Original posting at the Kennebec Journal here.
Notably amongst the northeastern Algonquian tribal territorialities, the W8banakiak have been described as a riverine people. The various band’s homelands are centered on watersheds – a river and its dependent streams, lakes, marshes, and floodplains. Whereas many other tribes would reckon their lands in terms of primarily terrestrial landmarks such as mountains, rivers, lakes, and perhaps a certain forest or clump of trees, denoting borders within which they circulated, the Abenaki centered themselves within the waters, ranging out through a branching, interconnected bowl [sources: Speck, Snow]. As an example, in this place I dwell, known today as Brattleboro – near where the states of Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts converge – the annual cycles of life revolve around the gathering of the Kwanitekw, Wantastekw, and Azewalad Sibo (Connecticut, West, and Ashuelot Rivers), with their respective tributary brooks, lakes, and ponds pitching down from the valleys and ranges .
A family’s hunting territories, above the plantings flourishing upon the floodplains and river terraces (the wolhanak), were bounded by these watery, connecting sinews, and stretched up into the hills and mountains to the next ridge top division. A person would describe their homeland as n’sibo, my river, allying with that flowing, veined world as a part of their own identity, a unity, all the same. Intimately familiar with the land, and its fellow dwellers – whether animate or inanimate – a person saw themselves as a continuous part of the spirits there, with roles to play and responsibilities to honor, inconceivably separable.
This merging may perhaps be seen in the phrase n’dai, which can mean “I am” – describing oneself – as well as “I live” – in a certain place. An understanding of this can help to inform the depth of the relationship between the homeland and its people, one so profound they merged into a single entity. The people are the land, and the land is the people. To separate them, as recent history has so graphically inscribed, is to assault the meaning of life itself, leaving it broken and futile. Healing can be found only in a restoration of relationship, a re-balancing through reciprocity among the community of beings. Note the prefix “re-” occurring in all of these words, meaning “again” and speaking of cycles, and the Great Hoop of Life.
This healing comes through an awareness of what is lacking, or what is interfering, with the flowing continuity of the river of life, and then addressing that lack, or obstruction. At the beginning of the New Year – Alamikos – with the winter solstice and the return of the sun, the Abenaki have a custom of asking for forgiveness, and a fresh start in the new season. As elder Joseph Elie Joubert tells us: “The new year’s forgiveness time is called Anhaldamawadin = The act of forgiving. We would go to the house of the people we offended during the past year and say the following: “Anhaldamawi kassi plilawawlan”. It is basically saying “Forgive me for the many wrongs I did you.”
N’sibo, my river, is Wantastekw, where it meets Kwanitekw. N’dai Wantastegok, Sokwakik, known today as Brattleboro. And so I say, to all my relatives here:
N’didam n’dal8gom8mek Wantastegok: Anhaldamawi kasi palilawalian.
Please forgive any wrong I may have done to you in the past.
It is a new year. Alosada, mina ta mina. Let us walk together, again and again.