‘This Is Our Continent’: ULA Honors Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Green

by Noel Sims, New Haven Independent, Oct. 13, 2022

“Our people live without borders,” John Lugo said in Spanish to a small crowd gathered on the corner of Church and Chapel to celebrate both migrants and indigenous people who call this land home.

Noel Sims Photo

Noel Sims Photo

That was the scene Wednesday afternoon during an Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration hosted by the local immigrant rights advocacy group Unidad Latina en Acción.

As Lugo spoke, smoke from sage burning at an altar set up in front of the Bennett Memorial Fountain wafted through the air. Among the group listening intently to his words were women in traditional Mexican and Guatemalan garb, young children, and a few curious passersby walking across the Green. Lugo, who helms ULA, welcomed family, friends and neighbors to join in a celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The rally wasn’t the only celebration of native people and culture that was held on the Green Wednesday. On the Elm Street side, a second group led by longtime local activist and Indigenous Peoples’ Day event organizer Norm Clement gathered for a separate ceremony. (City government, meanwhile, now recognizes the second Monday of October not as Columbus Day or as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but instead as Italian Heritage Day.)

According to a flyer passed out by organizers, the ULA event had an additional purpose: to criticize a lack of action by Democrats and other elected officials to make pathways for migrants to stay in the United States.

Oct. 12 has long been recognized and celebrated in this country as the date that the Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus first arrived in the Americas. On Wednesday, Lugo recognized the date as an anniversary of something much different than a first encounter between two cultures. He described it instead as the beginning of violence and genocide of Indigenous people on this continent. He said today’s immigration policies are a continuation of that violence.

[Read the entire article at www.newhavenindependent.org/article/indigenous_peoples_day_2?fbclid=IwAR2uW49HA6S6d6ZV7Eu1edDDFdjYK9sCXX7rU9eXvn_u22cF_thCLYdnXA]

 

 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Gathers Community

by Danielle Campbell, The Arts Paper, Oct. 14, 2022

Rachel Massaro stepped forward, her purple hair and clothing vibrant in the afternoon light. She took in the circle of people around her, the ground firm beneath her feet. The smell of sage hung low in the air, sweetgrass and turkey feathers laid out nearby. Sentence by sentence, she wove through a history of residential schools, missing and murdered Indigenous women, of children fleeing with their parents. A history that had yet to be taught—and learned from—in Connecticut and across the country.

Rachel Massaro (in purple) with her children and Clement during ritual smudging. — Danielle Campbell Photo

A member of the Northern Cheyenne and Saponi tribes, Massaro was one of roughly 30 people to attend an observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day Wednesday afternoon, held on the New Haven Green now annually. As in previous years, it was organized by Norman Momowetu Clement, a New Haven member of the Penobscot nation and a confederate member of the Quinnipiac tribe.

He said he’d chosen Wednesday—rather than Monday—because many still observe Oct. 12 as Columbus Day. It marks the day in 1492 when Columbus landed in what is now recognized as the Caribbean, beginning the mass rape and murder of Indigenous Taíno people.

“We’re trying to do away with Columbus,” he said. “So, unless you’re fighting to get that change to have Indigenous Peoples’ Day, then you shouldn’t be celebrating that day. One has to cancel out the other. We’re not going to be canceled out. We fought too hard to be canceled.”

For Clement, that fight is personal. Decades ago, his own father was adopted by a white family ostensibly trying to “better” Indigenous children, he said. In his father’s case, that meant hiding his culture and history from him. Growing up in that environment, Clement did not know he was Indigenous until he was 35 years old. His father never spoke of it because he was taught not to. He didn’t know what tribe his father was from until he started searching for answers.

[Entire article can be read at www.newhavenarts.org/arts-paper/articles/indigenous-peoples-day-gathers-community]

 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Wednesday, Oct. 12, 5-7 p.m.

Unidad Latina en Acción is organizing a ceremony and protest for Indigenous Peoples’ Day of Resistance on Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 5-7 p.m. on the New Haven Green. For more information, please go to the website ulanewhaven.org or facebook.com/ULANewHaven.

In previous years there were also events the second Monday in October. Please check the internet for local Indigenous Peoples’ Day events for Monday, Oct. 10.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Shifts To Story

by Lucy Gellman, Arts Paper, Oct. 11, 2021

The drum coasted over the New Haven Green, a steady heartbeat as voices began to swell above it. Huddled around a microphone, members of Red Territory led each other in a round, the song catching on something as it wove upwards. Four dozen pairs of eyes turned toward the sound and listened. The smell of sage hung low in the air.

Monday afternoon, Native artists, activists, and storytellers gathered at a now-annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration on the New Haven Green. Organized by Norm Clement and Ricky Looking Crow, the event sought to create a space for Indigenous people to gather, celebrate, and share the stories of where they come from and who they are.

Lucy Gellman photo

Clement is a member of the Penobscot Nation of Northern New England and a confederate member of the local Quinnipiac tribe. Looking Crow is a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe of Northern New England, primarily Maine.

“I got a few things on my mind today,” Clement said early in the ceremony. “It’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day here in New Haven. People are still fighting to be recognized in this state, around this country, we’re still fighting to get rid of the colonizer’s day.”

“I think today is all about unity, about praying together. It’s about awareness of the day,” said Looking Crow as he and Clement laid out sage, sweet-grass, turkey feathers for smudging, and a large bag of tobacco for prayers. He motioned to the grass beneath him, where yellowjackets buzzed through patches of overgrowth. “This is our church.”

This year’s celebration came almost 15 months after the city’s Board of Education, which recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day, voted to change the name of Christopher Columbus Family Academy on Blatchley Avenue. The City of New Haven does not yet recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day; alders voted on “Italian Heritage Day” instead last September.

For over two hours, attendees approached a communal mic with the same message: We’re still here. We always have been. And we’re going to keep resisting.

[This article can be read in its entirety at www.newhavenarts.org/arts-paper/articles/indigenous-peoples-day-shifts-to-story]

Indigenous Day Shifts from Columbus

by Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent, Oct 12, 2020

Richard Cowes lifted a wooden bear claw filled with smoldering white sage up to one side of Gary Tinney’s face and, whispering a prayer for peace, wafted the fragrant plume of smoke with a hawk feather.

Cowes and Tinney were celebrating Indigenous People’s Day along with 50 people late Monday afternoon on the New Haven Green.

Both Cowes and Tinney live in West Haven. Both are members of the Golden Hill Paugussetts. And both braved the blustery cold not just to celebrate Native American history and culture with a community of peers, but also to reflect on an extraordinary year of symbolic shifts.

In New Haven as elsewhere around the country this year, many of those changes have centered around a reappraisal of the legacy of the 15th-century explorer Christopher Columbus, with an eye towards the role he played in a white, European settler-led genocide of Native people.

Those local changes have included the Board of Education’s vote to rename Christopher Columbus Academy on Grand Avenue; the tumultuous removal of the Christopher Columbus statue from Wooster Square; the ed board’s renaming of Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day; the Board of Alders’ renaming of the second Monday of October as Italian Heritage Day; and the alders’ formal recognition of racism as a public health crisis.

“This struggle has been a long one,” said Norm Clement, a member of the local Quinnipiac tribe. “It’s been 528 years since colonization in this country.

“But we’re starting to win back who we are. We’re starting to be recognized. Some of the mascots are disappearing. The statues are disappearing. That is all part of the decolonization of this nation. We have to continue to celebrate who we are and what we represent and to do that in a good way.”

Read the full article here: www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/indigenous_peoples_day1.