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.
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.”
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
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.
Indigenous tribes called Franklin County home long before European colonizers landed in North America. Native American Heritage Day, observed since 2008 on the day after Thanksgiving, is an opportunity to recognize and discuss that history.
“We have this single day, Friday, Native American Heritage Day, which was designated by an act of Congress in 2008 — relatively recently,” said Rich Holschuh, who is from the Elnu Abenaki tribe. Abenaki homeland ran north to the St. Lawrence River in Canada, and south to Deerfield, with Turners Falls being “the nexus for all tribes in that area,” according to Holschuh. [note: I (Rich) am not a citizen of Elnu, but I do work extensively with them and others in the contemporary community.]
Holschuh also serves on the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs.
The resolution for Native American Heritage Day, signed by President George W. Bush, acknowledges Native people “for their contributions to the United States as local and national leaders, artists, athletes, and scholars.” Local advocates focus on a darker side of American history.
“It is with great sadness that we look back, just on the last 340 years, since this peaceful area of shared resources was witness to a terrible massacre of refugees from the regional war that was going on over who would control the land,” said David Detmold, representing the Nolumbeka Project, a non-tribal organization advocating for New England’s Native American tribes.
Detmold referred to The Battle of Great Falls, a decisive fight of King Philip’s War that took place on the banks of the Connecticut River between present-day Gill and Montague. He noted the Nolumbeka Project is part of a group studying the battle through a National Parks Service grant.
The decision on a new mascot for Turners Falls High School will be made with the help of a community task force created by the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee.
The School Committee discussed the mascot selection process for about an hour and a half during its Tuesday night meeting, where it landed on the creation of an advisory task force that would be a mix of students, high school staff and community members — without district administration or School Committee members.
The task force will include up to eight students, four staff members and six community members: three from Montague, two from Gill and one from Erving.
An unfortunate turn of events.
At Tuesday night’s Gill-Montague School Committee meeting, Chris Pinardi unveiled a plan to involve Native American tribes and groups in a process that would allow the school to keep its previous mascot, the Indian, while adjusting the mascot to create an accurate and respectful representation.
Pinardi, who is a graduate of the school and has been running a group in support of retaining the former mascot, spoke at the beginning of the meeting and delivered a packet with letters from tribal leaders from Vermont and Lowell. He asked the district to consider keeping the name while adjusting the representation with assistance from the tribes.
Pinardi asked the board to listen with an open mind and consider suspending the current process to select a new mascot.“I respectfully request that the logo process be tabled and this process be explored fully,” he said.
The committee discussed the issue later in the evening, making no clear decision on the issue, and opting to delay discussion of the mascot selection process because of how late it was in the night.