The day after Thanksgiving was established in 2009 as Native American Heritage Day. In homage to that heritage, Arrows 501(c)(3) (aka Arrows 4 American Indians), serving First Peoples in the U.S., hosted an online symposium featuring elders and movers and shakers of the greater Native American community, including two Lenape chiefs and an elder from the Lenape Council.
This event was cohosted by Bucks Students for Climate Action and Protection of the Environment (BSCAPE).
The speakers addressed issues that are close to the heart of indigenous people of this continent—both in the United States and in Canada. Among those issues are: the continuing epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women; the poisoning of the land and water by corporate entities—especially on tribal land; the cultural and psychological damage inflicted by the infamous Indian boarding school legacy and the racist use of Native Americans as mascots for sports and school teams.
Unami Chief Chuck Gentlemoon began the three-hour event with a prayer. Larry Denemy, of the Ottawa and Chippewa nations of the Great Lakes region, reminded the gathering of a prophecy of the Anishanaabe, in which the people of the Earth are called to make a choice between rampant materialism and a life of spiritual harmony. If humanity chooses the correct path, a time of great and everlasting peace will prevail.
Chili Yazzie, President of the Shiprock Chapter of the Navajo Nation, expressed his appreciation for all of his brothers and sisters who stand to protect our grandchildren.
Anthony Melting Tallow, Blackfoot Nation, shared his experience as a native youth in the foster care system. Today, a disproportionately high proportion of native children are removed from their homes and placed in foster care.
Ann Dapice, Lenape (elder)/Cherokee, and Donna Fann-Boyle, Choctaw/Cherokee discussed native mascots and violence against native women.
Chief Chuck Gentlemoon and Barbara (Bluejay) Michalski, Lenape, explained how the matriarchal aspect of their society is a strength. The importance of respect for women, those who carry life, was emphasized.
Chief Vincent Mann Gentle Eagle of the Ramapough Lenape nation invited all to visit and get involved in his nation’sMunsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm and closed with a prayer.
Arrows is preparing to ship new winter coats and toys to reservations located in the poorest counties in the U.S. and needs your support. To make a donation at this time of goodwill, or to find out more about Arrows, please visit www.arrows4americanindians.org.
(Respectfully submitted by Cynthia Greb.)