The First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative extends deep appreciation to the co-facilitators and participants of the Call to Action sessions. May our ongoing journeys be fruitful.
Guidelines for those Seeking Healing Relations with Indigenous Peoples: Lessons of Lenapehoking
With humility, allies of local, sovereign Native Nations faithfully embrace lifeways of accompaniment toward lasting peace and friendship. We invite individuals and corporate structures to consider decolonizing acts that include, yet are not exhausted by the following:
- We recognize the sovereignty of Native Nations – each Native Nation has absolute authority over its own identity, governance, knowledge and cultural lifeways.
- We acknowledge 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 interact maintaining formality with indigenous citizens, particularly with heads of state, mindful of being “outsiders,” using manners different from “intra-relational” ways.
- We express sincere gratitude to tribal ancestors, chiefs, spiritual leaders, council members, elders, culture-bearers and youth for the shared use of their homeland.
- We reciprocate rightly ordered “obligatory” hospitality, friendship, and peace; agape.
- We listen and patiently process authentic indigenous voice(s) anew, with appreciation.
- 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 secure prior permissions before taking photographs or making recordings of events, finding that assumptions of forgiveness after the fact dismissive of human/ cultural rights.
- 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 hold inclusive space for “others” just as if they are already in the room, for they may be present without one’s knowing; the ancestors are potentially present.
- We commit to (re)educating ourselves about inclusive historic truths and cultivating decolonizing lifeways, including non-mutually beneficial legacy.
- We strive to be responsible in the use of space, resources, and the natural environment.
- We act out of spirit led concerns, rather than shame or guilt, shifting cultural lifeways holding domination, inequities toward fellow humans and the natural world.
- We do not condone acts that co-opt indigenous cultures, actions of non-native people such as conducting indigenous ceremony, wearing regalia, replicating Indian Art design patterns and crafting of Tribal iconography.
- Therefore, the First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative/ host organization will address network individuals and corporate structures that fall away from these guidelines; those seeking right relations hold expectations of compassion and compliance; should abrasive acts or conversations persist, those dishonouring ally relations may be excused from participation and/ or eldered toward clearness of cross-cultural missteps.
First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative “Guidelines…of Lenapehoking” is a living document open to peer review. Current draft updated on the 20th day Second month, 2020.
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….
Dawnland: Taken to Heart (2018)
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, 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.