Mark Bushnell at VTDigger: Uncovering Vermont’s Stone Carvings

Bellows Falls Petroglyphs 1866

Note: Mark Bushnell is a Vermont journalist and historian. He is the author of “Hidden History of Vermont” and “It Happened in Vermont.” Mark called me for comments as he was putting this VTDigger column together.

When Rev. David McClure of Dartmouth College ventured down the Connecticut River to Bellows Falls in 1789, he was on a scientific mission. As a natural philosopher – what we might today call a scientist – McClure was interested in stone carvings he had heard about from a local man. The carvings, cut into an outcropping on the Vermont side of the river, depicted a series of faces.

“The figures have the appearance of great antiquity,” McClure wrote, noting that the British colonists who first settled the area a half-century earlier had observed them. The faces were life-sized images consisting of a simple oval with markings for eyes, nose, mouth and perhaps ears, McClure wrote. Some had lines sticking out of their heads that various observers have taken to be feathers, horns or rays.

McClure’s was apparently the first written account of the carved rocks, which have been described as the oldest pieces of art in Vermont. How old? Though experts agree the carvings were made by Native Americans, they are unwilling to ascribe a specific date, or even era, to the petroglyphs, which literally means “stone carvings.” They could be anywhere from 300 to 3,000 years old.

The written observations of McClure and subsequent visitors during the 19th and early 20th centuries are invaluable because they offer a snapshot of these artifacts, which have been changing over time. If descriptions of the petroglyphs have varied since McClure’s visit, so too have the interpretations of their meaning.

Read the full article in VTDigger here.

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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.

Doug Harris in Northampton Aug. 5th: Let the Landscape Speak

A fundraiser to support the Indigenous Tribes of the Northeast in protecting Ceremonial Stone Landscape Features in Sandisfield, Massachusetts.

Presenter: Doug Harris
Preservationist for Ceremonial Landscapes
& A Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office (NITHPO)

Doug Harris will present a history of Ceremonial Stone Landscape Features in the Northeast region and the struggle to preserve them. The hills and valleys of New England are dotted with living prayers of stone (Ceremonial Stone Landscapes) created by the Indigenous peoples of this region. These stone structures were built to create and restore harmony between human beings and Mother Earth. The prayers that they embody continue to live as long as the stones are kept intact.

As has happened before in other places, our government, more specifically, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been complicit in the destruction of these sacred stone landscapes. Over 1/3 of the 73 features identified in Sandisfield have been desecrated by the construction of a new gas pipeline. This occurred because FERC approved the project before the stone features were identified, and then failed to consult with the tribes in a meaningful manner to resolve the adverse impacts. While harm has been done, this is also an opportunity to support the Indigenous peoples of our region so they can challenge FERC’s behavior in the courts. If successful, ceremonial stone landscapes will be preserved, not destroyed, a result that would have national implications.

Saturday, August 5, 2017
3:00-5:00 pm
First Churches, 129 Main Street
Northampton, MA
The church is handicap accessible and on a bus line
Please enter on the Center Street side of the building
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You can make a tax deductible contribution in one of two ways

1) Write a check to Creative Thought and Action (memo: CSL), and mail it to Climate Action Now’s treasurer: Rene Theberge, 250 Shutesbury Road, Amherst, MA, 01002.

2) Donate online by going to https://tinyurl.com/protectsacredstones

Please share far and wide with friends and family.

For more info and/or to help with this campaign contact Susan Theberge
Please include CSL in the subject line.

Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscape Protection: Donate at YouCaring

ceremonial stone groupings

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The Narragansetts are a federally-recognized Indian Tribe whose Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Doug Harris, is leading the legal battle against the destruction of ceremonial stone features by the Sandisfield, MA Kinder Morgan pipeline, which was illegally-permitted by FERC. Please visit this link for more information about this potentially precedent-setting legal effort to be brought to the US circuit court of appeals:

https://www.youcaring.com/indigenousceremonialstonelandscapeprotection

Please share this link with your network to help us raise awareness and funds. Climate Action Now, a project of the 501c3 Creative Thought and Action, is fundraising for this effort in direct cooperation with Mr. Harris’ legal team.

Many thanks,
Lis McLoughlin

2nd Annual All Species Day in Great Barrington, MA

turtle island universe

Standing Rock Water Protectors and Friends & Supporters in the Berkshires,

We, Northeast Region Standing Rock RISING! NEXT STEPS Solidarity Committee are producing the 2nd annual ALL SPECIES day in Great Barrington, MA at the Fairgrounds on Rt. 7 from 12 noon to 6pm.

We are calling on all environmental, social and inter-faith communities, groups and organizations to come and stand in SOLIDARITY with Standing Rock and OPPOSE all pipelines across the country going under or near rivers, lakes, springs and ponds, especially in Sandisfield, MA where the Tennessee Gas / Kinder Morgan pipeline is proposing to desecrate and/or destroy over 20 Native American burial sites and sacred ceremonial sites as well, as they build this project that also impacts CT and NY.

100% of all donations on day of event will be directly made available to the Native Graves Ancestral Lands Legal Defense Fund (Doug Harris).

All Species day will include LIVE MUSIC, SPEAKERS, Cultural Dance groups and an inter-faith prayer vigil. Free information booth spaces will be made available at no cost to environmental and social justice groups, youth and church groups, community orgs and animal rights groups.

Performers committed to perform are Wicked Hanging Chads, a Reggae & Ska band (returning from last year) Sambaland Band, Brazilian Carnival Music, Otha Day, and the Aztec Dancers  (from Rock, Rattle and Drum American Indian Pow Wow, where they have performed for the last 11 years).

Speakers include Michael Johnson, Pathways to Peace, Karenna Gore, Center for Earth Ethics, Doug Harris, Historic Preservation Officer for Narrangansett Nation in Rhode Island, Joe Graveline of Nolumbeka Project and Rosemary Wessel of No Fracked Gas in Mass.    

More speakers to be invited and announced.

ALL SPECIES DAY SCHEDULE – April 23rd Sunday

12 noon – Inter-faith Invocation for the Earth and All Species to include a Native American tribal elder/spiritual leader, Christian Minister, Jewish Rabbi, Buddhist Monk or nun, etc.

12:15 pm – Aztec Dancers perform earth invocation and dances
12:45 – Speaker- Doug Harris
1:00 – Native American Drum and Dance for the Earth-TBA
1:30 – Taino Invocation for the Earth & All Species with Taino Song & Dance
2:00 – Speaker – Rosemary Wessel, No Fracked Gas in Mass
2:15 – ALL SPECIES House Band – Michael and Chris
2:45 – Speaker – Joe Graveline, Nolumbeka Project
3:00 – Wicked Hanging Chads – Reggae & Ska
4:00 – Speaker – Michael Johnson, Pathways to Peace
4:15 – Sambaland Band, Brazilian Carnival Music
5:45 – Otha Day – African American Drummer facilitates Drumming Circle
6:00 – Inter-Faith Prayer and Moment of Silence, facilitated by Michael
Johnson
See the original posting here.

Presentation by Doug Harris, Narragansett NITHPO on Ceremonial Stone Landscapes

doug harris narragansett nithpo ceremonial stone landscapes

Just in from the Nolumbeka Project:

Even if you cannot attend this presentation, please consider making a financial donation for legal fees. Remember, it was not that long ago that we faced a similar battle with Kinder-Morgan in this immediate area and throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The ugly head of that black snake can re-surface. Much depends on the success of this Sandisfield campaign to set a precedent and save the forest and the ceremonial stone features. We witnessed the bulldozing of similar features at Standing Rock. Please help prevent any more desecration!

Information excerpted from fundraising letter follows:
“There is currently an effort to explore legal avenues to protect this ceremonial stone landscape from being destroyed by the pipeline. The Nolumbeka Project supports the effort to protect these sacred stone structures. The estimate for the first phase of this legal work is $3,500. If you are able to contribute to the initial cost of this undertaking, please make your check payable to “Creative Thought and Action,” the fiscal sponsor for Climate Action Now, who is specifically amalgamating funds for this effort. Please be sure to put CSL in the “memo” line and mail your check to CAN’s treasurer:
Rene Theberge
250 Shutesbury Road,
Amherst, MA 01002
Thank you for your kind attention to this urgent and time sensitive request.
Susan Theberge, Climate Action Now
David Brule, Nolumbeka Project President

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.