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.

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The First Inhabitants: Before Barre Was Barre

Missisquoi Abenaki Flag

With the Barre Heritage Festival around the corner, it’s a good time to look back and celebrate Barre’s history. For many people, that means looking back over 200 years to when the town was officially founded. How about looking back over 10,000 years?

The people native to the area, the Abenaki, are a community that has lived in the central Vermont area ever since their ancestors first migrated here several thousands of years ago.

Thirty people, give or take, are “American Indian and Alaska Native alone” in Barre (City and Town) taken together according to the Vermont Census. More Abenaki people might identify as being of “two or more races,” and they aren’t included in that number.

Read the full article by Will Kyle in the Montpelier Bridge.

The Resurgence of Diné Principles to Guide the People

navajo sovereignty

Navajo Sovereignty: Understandings and Visions of the Diné People, a new collection of essays by Navajo authors, edited by Professor Lloyd L. Lee, tackles Indigenous sovereignty from a specifically Navajo perspective. The essays vary in tone and depth, but they all hit on or near the bulls-eye: revealing “the ongoing consequences of an imposed Western democratic governmental structure that transformed Navajo governance and leadership.”

The book demonstrates that Navajo society has not succumbed to the imposition of an alien governmental structure. The essays depict “tribal government” as a collaborator with colonial forms, but as Professor Jennifer Denetdale says in her Foreword, the authors “note the multiple ways and layers of how we are Diné and how we practice sovereignty and self-determination [and how] we work to transform governance….”

The authors do not shy from referring to U.S. federal Indian law as “U.S. claims to authority”; describing the “domestic dependent” relationship as “constraint,” rather than “protection”; and celebrating community cultural, organic sovereignty as “spaces of respite and rest from the ongoing effects of colonialism.” The book’s unflinching confrontation with the “colonial box” of federal Indian law combines with unabashed affirmation of Diné Fundamental Laws and philosophical principles, to advocate traditional Navajo governance to meet 21st century challenges.

Link here to the full review by Peter d’Errico in Indian Country Today.

Asleep Rather Than Dead

alyssa hinton art transformation

I visited a reception for indigenous artist Alyssa Hinton (Tuscarora-Osage) yesterday, at the C X Silver Gallery in West Brattleboro, VT. We had a cheerful conversation about her artistic journey of discovery, first through intuition and then traditional knowledge – her focus being on her southeastern roots, but finding commonality with other native, earth-based cultures. One thing was clear through our exchange: the truth that traditional understandings are not destroyed, missing, or lost. All of this knowledge, these relationships, “ways of seeing,” are still here and still accessible to those who seek them. A Chadwick Allen quote from the exhibit program (using indigenous earthworks as its particular reference point) makes the point well:

“…like other Indigenous writing systems, they assert, earthworks and their encoded knowledge have been ‘asleep’ rather than ‘dead.’ Dormant but alive, they have waited to be awakened by descendants of their makers finally free to re-approach and even to remake them, finally freed of the psychological fetters of an internalized colonialism that has undervalued Indigenous technologies and ways of knowing. Earthworks have been waiting, they assert, for old scripts to be reactivated, for new scripts to be written and performed. A time of waiting appears near an end, near the beginning of a new cycle. That time of new beginning is now.” Chadwick Allen, University of Washington

The significance of this reality here in N’dakinna becomes more clear, and more affirming, each day.

Traditional Foods of the Wabanaki Coast

Kyle-Pepperman-Downeast-Institute

Thursday, July 6, 2017 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: Abbe Museum, 26 Mount Desert Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

For more information: 207-288-3519; abbemuseum.org/events

In the Wabanaki homeland, the ocean is a central figure in the shaping of culture and worldview. The ocean has also been one of the most important Wabanaki food sources and has given life to communities for over 12,000 years. Join us at the Abbe as we welcome Kyle Pepperman from the Downeast Institute who will be on site with his aquatic touch tank! We will discuss marine life vital to Wabanaki culture and sustenance. This interactive program will also feature Abbe educators with artifacts and other materials used by Wabanaki people to harvest food from the ocean. This is sure to be a highlight of this summer!

Participation in this program is included with the price of admission and no prior registration is required.

Special thanks to the Downeast Institute, Kyle Pepperman, and Downeast Fisheries Trail.

See the original posting in the Bangor Daily News.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz at UMass April 4, 2017

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz UMass

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s public talk focuses on North America in the context of US settler-colonialism. Professor Dunbar-Ortiz will discuss the friction between settler environmentalism and Indigenous knowledge, considering what is required for the environmental movement to develop authentic solidarity with Indigenous Peoples’ struggle for survival, leading to real anti-imperialist environmentalism.

Link to file for the Dunbar-Ortiz Poster.