Call to Action

The First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative extends their deep appreciation to the co-facilitators and participants of the October 13th, 2019 Call to Action: Redressing Inclusion & Equity. May our ongoing journeys be fruitful. To contact FCRC, call (609)221-7247, or email  aliibiondi@gmail.com

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Redressing Inclusion & Equity

Landmark Documentary Screening Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code by filmmaker and Director Sheldon Wolfchild (Dakota) and Co-Producer Steven Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape). A one-hour screening of a little-known history based on Newcomb’s thirty years of research.

Threshing Conversations: Revelation & Unity

Participants will lean into decolonizing practices by reflecting on the documentary, then lift their voices in small group “civil conversations.” How might common practices define a culture, be representative of beloved community? Affinity topics may include land acquisitions, 15th century Papal Bulls, Columbus Day holiday, racist mascots, and/ or indigenous cultural (mis)appropriations.

Beyond Truth: Work Session Toward Reconciliation

From a circle of trust, participants may engage in

  • letter-writing campaigns
  • listing talking points
  • identifying means of gaining specific information
  • praying, and/ or….

Guidelines for those Seeking Healing Relations with Indigenous Peoples: Lessons of Lenapehoking

(c) 2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED sbm

The First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative (FCRC) engages in ongoing relationship building with Lenape Tribal Nations who have remained on their ancestral homelands. From circles of trust and listening to truths, the following guidelines for non-indigenous people have been generated toward awareness, friendship, and peace, found between Society of Friends (PhYM) and historically verifiable continuing indigenous tribal communities. Politically, in the PhYM region, five tribes hold state recognition relationships, 2 with DE, 3 with NJ, none with PA nor eastern shore MD.Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, Powhatan Renape Nation, Ramapough Lunappe Nation, Lenape Indian Tribe of DE, Nanticoke Indian           

We invite individuals and corporate structures to consider taking up guiding principles that include, yet are not exhausted by, the following:

  • With humility, we are grateful to the tribal ancestors, elders, and culture-bearers for the shared use of this land and its resources, Lenapehoking;
  • We acknowledge the sovereignty of tribal nations – each Tribe’s total authority over its own identity, culture, and lifeways;
  • We are mindful of divisive acts upon the “original people” of Lenapehoking, both those who have remained and those of the diaspora who are removed from their ancestral homeland;
  • We adopt reciprocal hospitality that imparts a place of welcome, holding open peaceful ways;
  • We speak of “others” as if they are in the room, for they may be present without one’s knowing;
  • With appreciation, we listen and patiently process authentic indigenous voice(s) anew;
  • While observing indigenous citizens intra-relations, we “outsiders,” even allies, are mindful to refrain from interacting likewise, particularly with heads of state, chiefs;
  • We do not presume to be deserving of acceptance by self-defining; “Allies cannot be self-defined. They must be claimed by the people they seek to ally with.” ~Unsettling Minnesota;
  • We speak from one’s own experiences with care for the use of pronoun markers of identity; “outsiders” will always be on the outside and are not to speak for indigenous peoples;
  • We strive to be responsible in the use of space and resources, including the environment;
  • We secure prior permissions before taking photographs or making recordings of events, finding assumptions of forgiveness after the fact dismissive of human/ cultural rights;
  • We do not condone co-opting indigenous cultures, such as non-native conducted indigenous ceremony, wearing regalia, replicating Indian Art design patterns and crafting of Tribal iconography;
  • We act out of concern for cultural domination/ human inequalities, rather than shame or guilt;
  • We commit to (re)educating ourselves on historic truths and cultivating decolonizing lifeways;
  • Therefore, individuals that fall away from these guidelines will be addressed by member(s) of FCRC/ the host organization with an expectation of compliance; should abrasive acts/ conversations persist, those dishonouring our relations may be excused from participation and/ or eldered toward clearness of cross-cultural missteps.
The First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative of PhYM has been formed with the intention of living into loving relations with Lenape Tribal Nations neighbours. FCRC lifts-up historic, dismissive truths and resilience. Members are of PhYM Friends Meetings and citizens of Lenape Tribal Nations and their relations; our witness calls us to network with other faiths, non-indigenous organizations, and Tribal Nations when mutually beneficial, as way opens. FCRC provides information for multitudes of intentional academic and experiential gatherings – talks, presentations, workshops, conferences, retreats. We frequently hear non-indigenous people express wonderings; most often our responses seem to fit into several broad categories: Tribal sovereignty, historic truths, cultural (mis)appropriations, and comparing & contrasting “Indian Country” with unique tribal nation lifeways. For more information contact FCRC via email: aliibiondi@gmail.com or call 609.221.7247. ~sbm 09/12/2019   

Dawnland: Taken to Heart (2018)

Wabanaki Peoples and Dawnland filmmakers

The documentary Dawnland is an investigation of the devastating impact of Maine’s child welfare practices on the Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy, collectively known as the Wabanaki, “People of the Dawnland.” The presumption by the dominant culture holds that “assimilating into white society would improve quality of life and give [the Wabanaki children] a better future.”

Utilizing materials created by Dr. Mishy Lesser, First-Contact Reconciliation Collaborative hosted a “Zoom” meeting lifting reflections toward next steps. After a land acknowledgement we settled into worship with the grounding query, “What is the relationship of taking of the land with taking of the children?”

Next we examined our growing edges by sharing responses to three questions – what did we know about the story before viewing the documentary; what aspects of this story are relevant today; and whether our own family’s cultural identity remains intact?

The facilitator’s wonderings invited further conversation; what might have been surprising; were beliefs or assumptions challenged; how might understanding sovereignty of Tribal Nations influence those perspectives; and whether ethical considerations might have influenced cameras to be turned off?

Before closing with expectant worship, we considered resources that might support practicing next steps. One suggestion is to gather more information; another asks FCRC to host additional Dawnland screenings with educational discussions; and toward resolving injustices thrust upon Indigenous Peoples, to address cultural misappropriations, stereotypes, and myths. We are grateful for the courageous personal stories shared by the Wabanaki People, including our friend Denise Altvater.


Native American Heritage Month – November

Native American Heritage Month, November, is “a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.”(NCAI)

In recognition of National Native American Heritage Month 2018, WHYY PBS/ Independent Lens is airing the documentary DAWNLAND, directed by Adam Mazo. Dawnland is the untold story of Indigenous child removal in the US and the investigation of the devastating impact of Maine’s child welfare practices on the Wabanaki people. Removing Indigenous children is based in the presumption that “assimilating into white society would improve [Wabanaki children’s] quality of life and give [the Wabanaki children] a better future.”

Denise Altvater (Passamaquoddy,) coordinator of AFSC’s Wabanaki Youth Program, joined Young Friends during their retreat hosted by West Chester Friends Meeting and is a friend of members of First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative (FCRC); Denise courageously tells her story, featured in DAWNLAND.