On February 5th, about 125 Friends gathered for the PYM program Thread Gathering: Restorative Racial Justice. Following a morning with Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting facilitators .O and Dana Reinhold, three different collaboratives–Middle East Collaborative, First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative (FCRC) and Eco-Justice Collaborative–offered overviews of current work. Below is a follow-up story by FCRC. [Read more…] about Spirit of First Contact Reconciliation: What’s Going On?
First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative
January is a reflective month and First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative suggests Friends engage with an opportunity (below) to read a book about the forests we live among.
Grassroots collaboration calls us back to selecting a One Book, One Community title. This winter we are vesting in Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard. Finding the Mother Tree is available with local library systems or for purchase as a book, e-book, or tape. [Read more…] about One Book, One Community 2022
First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative is seeking Friends’ truths. We are looking for those truths that work toward healing and involve humbly examining and sharing our stories.
[Read more…] about First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative: Healing and Story-telling on Federal Indian Boarding Schools
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s upcoming Continuing Sessions on March 27th will feature three issues of importance to Friends; Membership, Climate Change, and AntiRacism.
It is hoped that Friends at every meeting or worship group will feel led to participate, and that these issues will be brought back to your communities to inform and sustain Friends in an ongoing partnership towards a better world.
PYM First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative* gathered on Oct.13th for a workshop at Friends Center. We watched the film DOCTRINE OF DISCOVERY: Unmasking the Domination Code, then explored ways each of us might speak-out & take action. Resources have been provided for the following acts where products are being threshed for clarity; they currently include:
• LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Using the app NATIVE LAND, determine the tribal territory you occupy and acknowledge the people(s) of that territory when opening events, giving a talk, addressing a group, etc. Public buildings, houses of worship and private homes can also acknowledge the tribal territory they occupy with signage.
• INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY: With the growing movement to address the Myth of Columbus, come to terms with the truth of his barbaric and genocidal actions and their impacts. There are several actions that can be taken: 1) explore your local school to inquire what is being taught about Columbus; 2) offer a proposal to embrace Indigenous Peoples Day to your town, county, state, university or college.
• THANKSGIVING: with this holiday approaching, sharing with local school district, family and friends the truth about this holiday and deflating the myth.
• NATIVE MASCOTS – If your local school district has a Native mascot, you have the opportunity to bring awareness of its racism and harm to Indigenous peoples to your community. You could also share these videos: Native Americans Review Indian Mascots and/ or Proud to Be.
• DOCTRINE OF CHRISTIAN DISCOVERY – Papal Decrees put out by Popes in Rome that have laid the foundation for devaluing, discrimination and decimation of Native peoples since 1442 until today. Explore or initiate the movement within your Faith Community to rescind, revoke, repudiate.
• LETTER WRITING – write a letter on any one of these issues of justice to a newspaper, politician, website, etc. to make your voice heard.
FCRC Friends welcome the opportunity to visit with you to share cultural concerns and focus potential sadness/ anger into action steps. With revelation, may we let our lives speak, live a path peace, and build beloved community. To contact FCRC, call 609.221.7247
*This PYM collaborative, officially formed in 2017, holds intentions toward building true friendships, reconciling relationships, with Lenape Tribal People, specifically, those Lenape tribal nations/ communities who have remained on their ancestral lands. The FCRC creates space for the Lenape Tribes to lift their sovereign nations’ voices, a place for those not brought up in Native Nation community to listen. Listening also includes ways to reconcile with Spirit, with oneself, as well as with Lenape (whose hospitality lends as legacy hosts to Lenapehoking.) Being met by early Western European explorers, traders, and settlers, the Lenape are “First Contact” sovereign Nations/ Peoples. PYM calls the group a collaborative, and FCRC does network; history identifies the communities as “First Contact.” Revelation beckons reconciliation toward beloved community. Our loving identity is First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative, FCRC.
Photo credit: Nanticoke Lenape Tribal Members. Jeremy Newman © 2019
The weather was beautiful at Penn Treaty Park, site of the 3rd annual Indigenous Peoples Day Philly celebration, Saturday October 12th, 2019. “Penn Treaty Park is a significant place where the Great Elm Tree of Shackamaxon once stood. It is where many sachems (chiefs) of the Lenni Lenape and other tribes from the Lenapehoking territory would meet for council. Indigenous Peoples Day Philly is proud to honor the space by bringing our diverse Philadelphia Indigenous community together in celebration of our resilience, strength, and beauty.”
Dignitaries for the event were Mark Gould, Chief of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, and Tai Pelli (Taino), Human Rights Activist. Performers included the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape (Drum Group and Dancers); Vaughnda Hilton and Native Nations Dance Theater; The Magic of Storytelling with Tchin; Richie Olivera (Andean Music); Lauren Garret (Violinist); Taino Council Guatu Ma Cu a Boriken; and Campa Tlanesi (Danza Azteca del Anahuac). The event was sponsored by the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, We Are the Seeds, Philly Taino Cultural Workshop, Indigenous 215, Philly with Standing Rock, Philadelphia Assembled, FREE LEONARD PELTIER, and Friends of Penn Treaty Park.
Trinity Norwood (Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape) noted, “It was our largest event to date with 5 different indigenous communities represented and about 200 spectators throughout the day.” The Indigenous Peoples Day planning committee is a collective of several Indigenous organizations in Philadelphia. A November fellowship potluck is planned for all the participants to share their feelings about the day and ideas for future organizing, fundraising, and facilitating.
Although it has not been announced, we await a potential 4th annual Indigenous Peoples Day, when we might gather again for a celebration of song, dance, beautiful art, and traditional foods.
In November 2018, the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation’s lawsuit with Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was resolved; the Tribal Nation is once again recognized/ reaffirmed by the state of New Jersey. On March 18, 2019, New Jersey AG announced historic recognition of the Powhatan Renape Tribe and Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation. These Lenape Tribal Nations are seated on the NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs. The following original story and individual settlement agreements are posted -https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases19/pr20190318b.html
TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today that New Jersey has entered into separate settlement agreements with the Powhatan Renape Nation and the Ramapough Lenape Nation by which the State acknowledges it has officially recognized the two tribes as American Indian Tribes since 1980.
Under the settlements, the State agrees that New Jersey’s recognition is intended to qualify the tribes for all federal and state benefits and services for which State-recognized tribes are eligible. Among those benefits and services are “all privileges provided by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990.”
The State also agrees going forward that it will not deny the status of the Powhatan Renape and Ramapough Lenape nations as State-recognized American Indian tribes, and revokes any past denials of recognition. In addition, both tribes specifically disclaim any interest in casino gaming rights under the settlement, and the parties agree that official State recognition does not provide the tribes with federal casino gaming rights.
“Let there be no ambiguity. Through this settlement, New Jersey affirms the status of both the Powhatan Renape Nation and the Ramapough Lenape Nation as American Indian Tribes recognized by the State,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Tribal rights are significant rights, and we are glad that, through good faith negotiation, we’ve been able to reach an accord with both the Powhatan and Ramapough nations. These two tribes can now move forward without concern that state-level recognition issues will in any way impede their progress.”
Under the settlements announced today, the State has agreed to notify all relevant state and federal agencies of the newly-formalized recognition status of Powhatan and Ramapough nations within 30 days. Among the federal agencies to be notified are the Indian Arts & Crafts Board, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development.
With the agreements announced today, state-recognition issues pertaining to all three “New Jersey tribes of American Indians” referenced in statutes passed by the New Jersey Legislature in the 1990s are resolved.
In November 2018, Attorney General Grewal announced that New Jersey had entered into a similar state-recognition settlement with the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation.
While neither the Powhatan nor Ramapough pursued litigation, the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Nation had filed state and federal lawsuits in 2015.
Those lawsuits alleged, in part, that ambiguity regarding the Lenni-Lenape’s recognition status in New Jersey had caused it to be denied the right to label and sell traditional arts and crafts as “American Indian-made,” lose access to federal grants and scholarships, and lose contracts previously obtained by tribally-owned businesses.
Photo credit: https://www.state.nj.us/state/njcaia.shtml
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer was the selection for the One Book, One Community read-in sponsored by the Salem Quarter Indian Affairs Committee. The discussion took place over the winter in the comfort of our own homes through dial up and/or log in access called Zoom.
When I googled this title, I found two interesting things. One is that 4,182 people liked it well
enough to write a review for Goodreads, with a 4.6 out of a possible 5 rating. That seemed
quite good to me for a nonfiction book.
Even more appealing, I noticed when I googled the book that Longwood Gardens featured
Braiding Sweetgrass in 2015 as its Community Read selection. On the Longwood Gardens
website, go to events/blogs and enter Braiding Sweetgrass in the search box. You will find a
beautiful description of the book, complete with gorgeous photos of Longwood Gardens, and
quotes from the author, Robin Wall Kimmerer. This recommendation alone makes it worth
checking out the book.
What is fascinating to me about this book is that while it is primarily considered a work of
nonfiction written by a science professor, it is extremely readable. It weaves together many
genres. The author tells of personal experiences with nature as a type of memoir. She brings in
myths and legends about the environment. Throughout the book are references to the Citizen
Potawatomi Nation of which she is a member. She describes scientific facts about ecology in a
way that is easy to understand. Spirituality, poetry and even history can be found within the
pages. The full title of this book is Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific
Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.
Considering this book’s relevance to Quakerism, one of the main queries Braiding Sweetgrass
addresses is Stewardship of the Environment. The book was published in 2013, and it took
seven years to write. It seems even more important today with looming environmental
challenges. The importance of the Quaker tenets of simplicity and community are well
documented as well.
I close with a quote from the publisher, Milkweed Editions:
“The awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our
reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of
other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our
own gifts in return.”
I write this review of Braiding Sweetgrass to encourage others to tell us about books they have
read that would have interest for our wider Quaker audience. Books with examples of our
Quaker tenets would be especially welcome, in addition to books about Quakersim in general.
submitted by Friend and librarian, GH
Six years ago, finding unity, Salem Quarter Friends began a political letter writing campaign seeking justice – New Jersey state reaffirmation of Tribal status for the Nanticoke-Lenape People. Three years ago the Nanticoke Lenape sought legal resolve, and SQ sent a letter of support to their legal council, Cultural Heritage Partners. That letter and a personally signed amicus brief were included in their legal portfolio. With newly appointed state Governor and Attorney General the case has come to a resolve; the Nanticoke-Lenape Tribal Nation is once again recognized by the state.
Grateful for the part that friends and allies played in their victory, Chief Gould sent invitation to two SQ Indian Affairs Committee members to attend their “Victory Celebration.” Other guests included family and members of legal council – Greg Werkheiser, Eden Burgess, and Frank Corrado. Everyone is graciously thanked for their time and efforts in “keeping our Tribal family secure.”
During this “Victory Celebration” Chief Gould acknowledged their long hard struggle. We heard that with the Creator, combined prayers, combined efforts, and honesty, success has been achieved. In a letter to his Family, he further states, “keeping a positive prospective, our needs will always be met. Our work is not complete. Please come and join us as we prepare for the next seven generations.”
Caption: Donna Fann-Boyle being questioned by the Neshaminy School District attorney during the hearing about the Neshaminy Redsk*ns Mascot, January 10, 2019
The hearings at Bucks County Community College went on for five days. This Friend, member of PhYM First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative, was able to attend on the fourth day when Donna Fann-Boyle (Chocktaw/ Cherokee) was questioned. Afterward, Donna responded to how she felt now that [testimony] was over. She said, “I felt more empowered by the amount of support I received. I feel like I can breathe now and that the hard part is over. The public is now more aware. I feel good about what happened during the hearings but it is still up in the air. Nothing is set in stone.”
The use of Native names, slurs, images and symbols is a stark reminder of how our communities are still colonized. Donna has persisted for over four years to educate the Neshaminy community about the true meaning of the R-word. The Conqueror Mentality: we took their land, we took their resources, we took their lives when they got in our way, we took their children and the latest version through the mascots – we take their identity and tell them what it means.
Testimony of a Neshaminy HS teacher and a community member occurred before Donna’s testimony. The teacher who advises their Student Council talked about the students coming up with a “Mr. Redsk*ins” event and didn’t say anything to them about the deeper meaning of the name. The community member, a lawyer, father of students in Neshaminy Schools, and also a coach in the community, said he knows lots of young people. He supported the greatness of the school district and saw no problems with the mascot and its effect. Though, when asked if he was aware of the meaning of “redsk*ns” he said he never did any research into the subject and saw no negative effects in the schools.
One of the more disturbing reports from the hearings was the testimony on day 5 by Stephen Pirritano, a school board member. When asked if he felt the information about scalp bounties to be true–his answer: “I’m sure it happened you know–just like any other races through history you know [have] been eradicated. My parents came from Italy. When the Africans came over went to Sicily and Italy and killed all the men and impregnated all the women, the world’s full of that.” The Spencer Phips Proclamation of 1755 spells out the details of such bounties – money paid for “redsk*ns” or scalps.
The Neshaminy School District hired as its expert witness Andre Billeaudeaux, a self-proclaimed amateur historian who wrote a children’s fictional book about how the Washington r–skins got their name. He is also the executive director of NAGA, an organization that supports the use of native mascotry and promotes harassment of natives and allies who work on changing harmful mascotry in their schools. He travels the country trying to convince school districts with Native mascots that it is to honor them. (See NAGA, http://www.naguardians.org/.)
It is remarkable that the school district is willing to spend precious educational monies to defend such an indefensible mascot. And ironic that the most vehement Euro-American community members, who say the mascot is an honor to Native peoples, are the most disrespectful to actual living Native peoples. This Friend contends that the fierce connection between symbol and identity has its roots in our Euro-American loss of ancestral territories. On a cellular level many of us long for our tribal identity and connection, long lost through early migration and or intense cultural mixing. Tragically, Native culture is very compelling to appropriate when you long for tribal identity.
Leading Native American tribal organizations condemn the use of Native mascots and many studies have shown the negative impacts. These negative impacts are also on the non-native students – increasing divisions, attitudes of superiority, and racism. Research led by psychology professor Chu Kim-Prieto (The College of New Jersey) showed that exposure to Native American team mascots, increases a person’s negative stereotyping of other races. When society condones stereotypes, youth and adults think it is okay to use other stereotypes –
which ultimately leads to more bias and discrimination.
There is a great deal of evidence about the cyber-bullying and backlash on Donna Fann-Boyle over the years: death threat phone calls and a great deal of nasty social media attacks. None of this evidence was brought up at the hearings, as it was up to the Neshaminy lawyers to bring it up, which they wouldn’t do given the negative light it would shine on the community. It is part of what the judge and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) panel [may] have to examine.
One of the lawyers for PHRC (https://www.phrc.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx) is about to give birth and is taking maternity leave. This means that the findings will be delayed until July 1st. It will be an 11-member panel who makes the final decision.
How might Friends move faith into practice, act to decolonize our communities? If a racist mascot exists in your community, speak to the negative effects it holds over everyone – Native and non-Native Peoples alike; and/or support any CHANGE THE NAME effort, including the Washington D.C. NFL team. With Spirit, toward community unity, wonderings and comments may be shared with PhYM First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative, https://www.pym.org/first-contact-reconciliation-collaborative/. Wanishi (Lenape, thank you)