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.