Indigenous Peoples’ Day’s Solidarity on the Green

Lucy Gellman, Arts Paper

The sound of drums coasted over the New Haven Green, mingling with the scent of sage still in the air. …Monday [Oct. 9], [Jennifer] Rawlings and her son, Dyami Pimentel, joined close to 50 people observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the Green, which sits on unceded Quinnipiac land across from New Haven’s City Hall. Organized by longtime activist Norm Clement, this year’s gathering made space for Indigenous storytelling, culture, and ceremony across cultural and geographic borders, addressing colonialism as both an ongoing problem and source of deep generational trauma….

“I hope we’re bringing some love and community here today,” said Clement, who is a water protector, confederate member of the Quinnipiac tribe, and a member of the Penobscot nation. “We are still here. They’ve tried for [over] 500 years to get us, but we’re still here.”…

Monday, that sense of solidarity was everywhere, from attendees who came straight from the [Palestine] rally to those who shared stories of growing up Indigenous in New Haven, in Connecticut, and across the country. As Clement filled a polished abalone shell with sage, fanning it with a turkey feather, Rawlings stepped in close, listening to details about the ceremony to come. …[Clement] called for a moment of silence to remember Sadé Heart of the Hawk, who for decades dedicated her life to suicide prevention, trauma reduction, and education and advocacy for Two-Spirit people.…“She is now one of our ancestors,” Clement said, his voice strained and reverent as Ricky Looking Crow lifted a drum and began to play….

Before the observance concluded, Clement and Looking Crow held up a banner that they planned to place at the Knights of Columbus Museum on State Street, a final act of resistance and solidarity. … A number of red handprints crowded the top register, a reminder of the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in this country and well beyond it. 500 Years of Genocide/And/We Are Still Here, it read. And Clement had added two green, white, and red Palestinian flags.

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