Sharing the Dialogue Road Map with Indigenous People
Maria’s Midweek Mindfulness
The Wednesday Whisper
The Wabanaki People
Right now we’re sharing the Dialogue Road Map with Wabanaki people. The hospitality and warmth we receive is a beautiful two way exchange of love and learning. So this week I feel called to tell you about the Wabanaki people and some of the history of oppression.
Wabanaki people are a collective of tribes in Northern New England and Canada. They have inhabited the area for at least 13,000 years and even longer according to oral histories.
For generations, Wabanaki people travelled with the seasons, planting corn in the spring, harvesting fish and gathering berries during the summer and hunting game during winter. Their lifestyle was prosperous. It was radically changed when European settlers arrived 400 years ago and then disrupted again when ancestral territory was split by settlers by drawing state lines and creating two countries.
Initially, mutually beneficial trade networks opened up. But the English desire to take land created war. In the 1700’s a proclamation provided settlers freedom in “pursuing, captivating, killing, and destroying all and every” of the Eastern Indians with a bounty $300 ($60,000 today’s equivalent) for a scalp as an incentive.
Most people understand in retrospect how much damage was done in taking away land and claiming ownership from a people who saw themselves as stewards and guardians. The stark statistic is that Wabanaki people have suffered a 98 percent population decline since Europeans arrived. Disease has been the biggest culprit and stories of blankets and linens given to the people that were infected with smallpox are testimony to this being no accident. Now Wabanaki people number 8,000, only 0.6% of the 1.3 million people in Maine.
It’s important to remember that the oppression has not ended. Within our lifetimes, children were taken away and placed in foster care with non native people. Even today, Native children are entering foster care at a rate that is more than 5 times higher than the non-native population.
The erosion of tradition, culture and language is evident in the struggle to find enough competent language speakers who can bring the language back.
And, the Wabanaki people’s activism to claim their right to fairness and sovereignty is not tinged with any form of revenge, just the desire for peace and healing.
Maria’s Mindfulness Moment
I have been deeply touched by the connection and understanding we are receiving. And, I notice a desire in me to promote Indigenous ways of peacemaking, stewardship and harmony with nature because the heart is so evident in their ways.
The Wednesday Whisper
What is our individual right to sovereignty? How is this balanced with our collective need to flourish together.
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