We will be known forever by the tracks we leave. – Dakota
Indian Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Report for October 2016 through September 2017
During the Fiscal Year 2016-17 fifteen individuals were active as Members and Attenders at ten meetings held during the year. On average nine people attended each meeting. We were greatly saddened by the sudden loss of one of our long-term members, Amanda Ivory, in July 2016.
GRANT REQUESTS FUNDED
The Committee approved a grant of $1,000 (of a request for $2,000) for the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post in Onamia, Minnesota. This supports their powwow and an expansion of the overall festival to invite Native musicians to present a variety of musical genres. This festival brings local communities and Ojibwe people together for cross-cultural dialogue and the opportunity to learn about the Ojibwe history and culture. (October 2016)
The committee approved a grant of $1,000 to support legal work being done by the Native American Rights Fund for it in defense of those engaged in the Standing Rock Sioux protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. (November 2016)
The Committee approved a grant of $2,000 for Flying With Eagles – representing additional funding to meet the full request they first made in December 2015. At that time, we funded $1,500 of the $3,500 requested. This grant would assist in travel to different communities to share the Flying With Eagles program which empowers Native Youth to do peer counseling to stem suicides. The Coalition for the Prevention of Youth Suicide has focused especially on inter-tribal gatherings and works with social service staff. (December 2016)
The Committee approved a grant of $1,800 for the Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing, Inc. of Pine Ridge, SD, to do a survey of housing and family needs in the Fraggle Rock neighborhood in Pine Ridge. This is to foster more of a kinship feeling within the neighborhood as well as to provide better housing and services. (January 2017)
The Committee approved a grant for $1,500 (of a request for $3,500) from the Four Directions Development Corporation in Orono. Maine. Funding supports Wabanaki artists and craftspeople in branding and marketing efforts. (February 2017)
The Committee approved a grant of $2,775 to support travel expenses for Dr. Ana Maria Tekina-eiru Maynard for travel to Puerto Rico to gather oral histories from Taino elders which would be used to produce a play to be presented in Austin, Texas. This will serve to educate Puerto Ricans of Taino and non-Taino heritage, and a general public, about Taino history and culture. (April 2017)
The Committee approved a grant of $2,000 in support of the Lakota Youth Healing Camps on the Pine Ridge Reservation. This involves a series of healing and cultural activities to support youth and build self-esteem and Lakota identity. About 60 children, young women and young men would be participating. With the very high rates of teen suicide on Indian reservations, the Committee felt this was a very important project. (April 2017)
ENGAGEMENT WITH AND ACTION IN SUPPORT OF NATIVE PEOPLES
The Committee welcomed guests Walter Anderson and Steve Carty from the Piney Lenape of New Jersey at the October 2016 meeting. Walter Anderson has been active in encouraging the preservation of the Piney Lenape culture for many years and is a beadworker. Steve Carty is a traditional artist, having learned basketry from his mother. He is an expert on plants of the Pinelands, and as a historian and researcher he has written a number of booklets about the Pinelands.
At the October 2016 meeting Nancy Webster reported on her travels (not as an Indian Committee Representative) to the Standing Rock Sioux protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Based on our consideration of the situation, the Committee agreed that it was not helpful to the Lakota or appropriate for PYM funds to be used to send Quaker delegates to the protest site. While the support of outsiders is appreciated, it is important to be clear that this is fundamentally a Native Peoples’ issue and not an environmental issue. At its November 2016 meeting the committee approved a grant of $1,000 to support legal work being done by the Native American Rights Fund on this issue.
At its November 2016 meeting, the Committee discussed the need for action to urge President Obama to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier. Tricia Shore put out a call to action through our Facebook page and Kate deRiel drafted a letter to send to Monthly Meetings and a letter for the Indian Committee to send to President Obama.
Nancy Webster, Jim Murphy and Sandra Boone Murphy attended the Native Nations Rise demonstrations in Washington D.C. in March 2017. Jim and Sandra participated in several information sessions on the work of Native youth and financial divestments in banks. They noted that Native peoples approach environmental issues in a variety of ways and that it is important for us to understand how this differs from our approach. They also attended a powerful evening of prayer in support of “Standing as Stone,” Indigenous Nations and Allies gathering at the National Cathedral where Native clergy spoke in their own languages.
Nancy Webster has worked in support of Sheldon Wolfchild who is seeking repatriation of his ancestor from Jefferson University Medical School. We met him at our September 2015 meeting. Nancy is hoping to further pursue this and the Committee’s gave its support to this initiative.
WORK WITH YEARLY MEETING AND MONTHLY MEETINGS
Committee members attending the “Quakers, First Nations and American Indians” conference in
November 2016 were able to meet John Echohawk as well as members of New York and New England Yearly Meeting Indian Affairs Committees.
Sandra Boone Murphy and Jim Murphy attended a gathering at Langley Friends Meeting, McLean, Virginia, at the invitation of Sue Marcus of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Indian Affairs Committee. On this occasion Christine Ashley of FCNL escorted Lakota spiritual leader Royce Gay to Capitol Hill. Along with prayer and dialogue for understanding, Royce provided an update on events at Standing Rock. (December 16)
The Committee welcomed PYM General Secretary Christie Duncan-Tessmer to our January 2017 meeting. She shared information about the new structure at PYM and the Committee shared its ideas on our relationship with PYM and needs for support.
Sandra Boone Murphy and Kate deRiel worked with content collaborators for FGC’s Spiritual Deepening project Toward Right Relations with Indigenous Peoples including conference calls drafting, editing, producing, and marketing. Sandra noted that she had attended a meeting of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia which is working to bring together people of all religions to work on issues of concern. (February 2017)
The Committee worked with PYM to incorporate our website, insuring that it would remain accessible to Indian communities. The Committee has used the PYM website to post news of our work and to make issues and events better known. Tricia Shore was particularly active in posting information on the Indian Committee Facebook and in creating communications, information, and videos. The work she has done for the Indian Committee has been noticed and appreciated by PYM.
Several Committee members attended the PYM Grantmaker’s Potluck on March 11, 2017 at Arch Street Meetinghouse.
The Committee welcomed Ken Park and Tom Armstrong of the PYM Granting Committee to the March 2017 meeting. Ken Park (Clerk of the Granting Committee) provided a handout to explain the structure of granting groups within PYM. This showed a loop of circles where all granting groups intersect with the Granting Committee and each other. Granting groups are: Greenleaf, Aging Assistance, Indian Committee, Willits Book Trust, Membership Development, Travel and Witness, Quaker Buildings and Programs, Fund for Sufferings, and COFE College Grants. Tom Armstrong, the liaison to Indian Committee, has continued to be an important presence at Indian Committee meetings.
Kate deRiel and Sandra Boone Murphy (as a member of the FHA planning committee, rather than Indian Committee representatives) worked with the Friends Historical Association to plan a trip on May 6, 2017, to visit South Jersey Native sites as part of a study of Quaker-Native relations and early Quaker settlement. Highlights include a 550 year old Salem Oak tree, Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Grounds, Friends Burial Ground which began in 1676, the presence of Chief Gould and Pastor Norwood, and the artifacts at the Cumberland County Prehistoric Museum.
While not an Indian Committee initiative or project, Nancy Webster worked with Sandra Boone Murphy to create the First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative. In a letter sent to the Committee Sandra described the work of this collaborative which grew from her personal leading to establish person-to- person contacts and understanding between Friends and east coast colonial era indigenous peoples of the Lenapehocking and sister Nations. The establishment of this collaborative was approved by the PYM Quaker Life Council and has Indian Committee support.
Two workshops were offered at the July PYM Annual Meeting in Ewing New Jersey. Tricia Shore did a workshop on How to be an Ally to Indigenous Peoples where each person attending had a different card to read and talked about how that concept could be something they could do. Sandra Boone Murphy did a workshop which also included Pastor Norwood, Nanticoke Lenni Lenape, who spoke about the Lenni Lenape people, where they live and what they do now. Both workshops were well attended and greatly appreciated.
INDIAN COMMITTEE COLLABORATION WITH OTHER FRIENDS AND COMMUNITY GROUPS
Kate deRiel gave a talk on Friends and Native peoples at a Presbyterian church in Lancaster in October 2016. Kate has also maintained contact with the Circle Legacy Center in Lancaster which has been active in preserving the legacy of the Carlisle Indian School and in supporting repatriation of children buried on the former school site.
Committee members have maintained contact and individual support of Paula Palmer (Boulder, CO, Friends Meeting) in her work to research the role Quakers played in Indian boarding schools. She is working with the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.
The Committee began planning for the care and use of the wampum belt which was presented to us by James Lone Bear Revey of the Piney Lenape on the 350th anniversary of William Penn’s birthday in October 1994. As he intended, the Indian Committee hopes to expand use of the belt in presentations and at events. This included Nancy Webster taking the belt to the November 2016, conference “Quakers, First Nations and American Indians from the 1650s to the 21st Century” where she spoke. Sandra Boone Murphy and Jim Murphy have been particularly active in sharing the belt at both Quaker and Lenape events and gatherings, including taking it to the tribal councils of the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape in New Jersey and the Lenape in Delaware as requested by them. The Committee is thankful to PYM General Secretary Christy Duncan-Tessmer for the decision that the belt should be fully accessible to the Indian Committee for our use. The Committee is determining how to provide stewardship of the belt to keep it safe while respecting its living and spiritual nature.
The Committee welcomed Cara Lee Blume, an archeologist, anthropologist and historian who has been working for over 30 years with the Nanticoke and Lenape in Delaware and New Jersey, to its November 2016 meeting. She did a Power Point presentation called “Who is Indian! And How Do We Know.” This addressed the various non-tribal organizations: Pan-Indian organizations like those found in urban area and the national organizations such as the National Congress of American Indians, descent associations made up of individuals with some ancestry but not part of a tribal community, and hobbyists and other interest groups.
In view of a Friends Journal article about George Price’s spiritual leadings to conduct Quaker Sweat Lodges, the Committee welcomed him to our December 2016 meeting so that he could tell us about his work in conducting these. George explained that he had conducted a sweat lodge at Friends General Conference until 2004 when FGC abruptly ended the practice in view of criticism from the Wampanoags when FGC was held in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has continued to hold Quaker sweat lodges for PYM Young Friends until 2016; he hoped they might consider doing a sweat lodge again in the future. He has also been conducting a Quaker sweat lodge for Gwynedd Monthly Meeting when they meet every three years with the Gwynedd meeting from Wales. He continues to conduct sweat lodges at Snipes Farm (which are free of charge to participants). The Committee had written a letter in 2006 objecting to this practice and we discussed our continued concerns with George. George clarified that the sweat lodge he conducts is not a Native American sweat lodge but a Quaker sweat lodge. He felt chosen by the spirit to do sweat lodges which included elements he learned from Native people, but the Quaker sweat lodge does not include cultural elements of Native American religion.
Nancy Webster was asked by her local library to talk about Standing Rock pipe line protests. This has led to an invitation to do an eight-week series on basic history and contemporary issues. It was felt that the strong interest shown in Nancy’s talk is part of a growing consciousness on the part of a wider public of Native issues. (April 2017)
Ed Nakawatase was present to offer background information at Germantown Monthly Meeting’s screening of the Doctrine of Discovery documentary film. (April 17).
Chief Dennis Coker of the Lenape Tribe of Delaware spoke at a showing of the Doctrine of Discovery documentary at Green Street Meeting in April 2017. While not a project of the Indian Committee we were pleased that this was a well-attended event.
Prepared by Lois Kuter