One Book, One Community

WINTER 2020 –STRONG MEDICINE” SPEAKS: A Native American Elder Has Her Say, An Oral History by Amy Hill Hearth

Greetings from Salem Quarter Indian Affairs Committee & PhYM First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative. We extend open invitation to read and gather (via technology) for intentional, personal reflection of an oral history of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation. Through interviews, author Amy Hill Hearth documented the life of Marion “Strong Medicine” Gould, a tribal elder and mother of Chief Mark Gould. Listen to a three minute clip where Amy summarizes the book, and/ or  listen to Blair Hearth’s (0:06:29) YouTube video production.

The author’s website offers several book reviews; in summary we find, “Marion “Strong Medicine” Gould, the 85 year old mother of a Lenni-Lenape Chief, shares her life story, opinions, and historical perspective in this groundbreaking oral history. The book is a rare look, from the inside, of contemporary Native American life. At the same time, the book tells the story of the tribe, the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation of Bridgeton, New Jersey near the Delaware Bay, the largest and most vibrant group of Lenape (sometimes called Delaware Indians) still living on Ancestral Lands. The Lenape were the original inhabitants of an area that includes Manhattan, all of New Jersey [and Delaware,] eastern Pennsylvania including what is now Philadelphia, and parts of Maryland. They are what is known as ‘a nation of first contact,’ meaning that they encountered Europeans four centuries ago. Often mistakenly believed to be extinct, the tribe’s declaration – and message in the book – is ‘We are still here!'” (Scroll down to learn more about “We are still here.”)

The WINTER 2020 schedule and “Zoom” dial up/ log-in access information is posted on the Salem Quarter Indian Affairs Committee webpage. We will follow the Friendly Adult Book Groups guidelines by Michael Gibson (below), former FGC Adult Religious Education Coordinator.


WINTER 2019 –  Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants  by Robin Wall Kimmerer

We followed the Friendly Adult Book Groups guidelines by Michael Gibson, former FGC Adult Religious Education Coordinator, and inquiries by Longwood Gardens. The series of five “Zoom” conference sessions suits the five sections of Braiding Sweetgrass:

Planting Sweetgrass” January 10th, 7pm – 8pm;

Tending Sweetgrass” January 24th, 7pm – 8pm;

Picking Sweetgrass” February 7th, 7pm – 8pm;

Braiding Sweetgrass” February 21th, 7pm – 8pm;

Burning Sweetgrass” & “Epilogue” March 14th, 7pm – 8pm.

Braiding Sweetgrass is available through local libraries, book stores, and audio book.


Query: “What role does nature play in your own spiritual life?”
James H. Wood, The Ecology of Quaker Meeting, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #449

Friendly Adult Book Groups

by Michael Gibson

Book groups have become quite popular in Friends adult religious education. What is perhaps most attractive about this approach is that it can provide numerous opportunities for deep personal sharing. When using any book for a Friends adult forum or class, it is particularly Friendly to keep the focus, in questions and in sharing, on the experience of the participants.

Asking what one thinks about a passage may invite opinions and discussion but may not get to the heart. Questions such as these may lead to richer sharing:

How does the text speak to your condition?

In what ways does the author challenge you, open you up, or invite you to deeper living and loving?

Where is God in what you are reading, and how is the Spirit working in you as you engage (or resist!) the text?

Does the passage under study make you more tender toward others andtoward yourself? Explain.

What rises up in you as you read the text—a strong emotion, an old memory, an image, a sense of the Divine Presence?

If the text “makes a difference” or touches us deeply, how then shall we live?

What practical action might you be led to as a result of your reflections on the text?

How might you rephrase key passages to make them your own, informed by your experience of the sacred?

Look for texts that invite deep reflection and sharing. Memoirs, journals, biographies, essays on some aspect of Quaker faith or practice, and explorations of any of the testimonies are some of the many possibilities. Sharing is usually most rich when those in the group have read the passage under study in advance and have allowed time for the words to roll over in their minds and play in their hearts. Responding off the cuff to material heard for the first time often leads more to shallow reacting than seasoned reflection.

Queries and discussion questions are richest when they come from a heart illumined by the Light. Some suggested guidelines are:

1. Use “I” statements that indicate your own experience, rather than to generalize or assume what others experience.

2. Lovingly accept each person’s contributions as reflecting her or his experience, whether or not the experience is your own or is common to others.

3. Self-monitor the frequency of your contributions to avoid dominating or excluding others.

4. Take time and care to listen fully and consistently to the contributions of others.

5. Pay attention to the power dynamics of the group. Has any one group (of age, race, gender, etc.) “hogged” the time or determined the shape and flow of the sharing, thus compromising safety, respect or mutuality?

6. Keep worship sharing and other intimate sharing within the group unless given permission from the speaker to share it with others.

When each participant both speaks and listens from the heart, no one is judged. Adult book groups can be a vital part of any monthly meeting’s religious education program when the sharing is experiential, touches the heart, respectfully honors the whole person, and is conducted within a framework of clear and healthy boundaries. As each participant’s experience of the numinous is expressed uniquely, the discussion of a text that invites deep reflection can provide a rich forum for enriching relationships and for coming to know one another in that which is eternal. May the Light shine in all our Quaker religious education work!

We Are Still Here

The Tribal Saga of New Jersey’s Nanticoke and Lenape Peoples by Dr. Rev. J. R. Norwood (Nanticoke-Lenape)

We Are Still Here is a brief, yet comprehensive summary from authentic, contemporary voice that provides perspective on the three inter-related tribal communities of southernmost Jersey and Delaware, the people who have remained on their homeland, in tribal communities, ever since Western European immigration. This Native Nations’ tribal history is available as a free downloadable.

“Too often, when American Indian Culture is presented, it is as though it belongs only to the remote past…Too often, our people are spoken of as though we no longer exist in New Jersey and the surrounding states…Too often, others have spoken about us, but without regard to us… For too long, our voices have not been heard”