The following piece I wrote and sent into the Op-Ed section of The Greenfield Recorder of Greenfield, MA. This is the unabridged version as I’m sure I wrote too long. I welcome your feedback.
To the good people of Franklin County,
I implore you to educate yourselves about the real history of the local Native Americans’ lives and culture, then and now. It seems many do not understand or acknowledge it. Their culture & lives were/are just as important as an Irishman’s or an Englishman’s.
Lack of education is trickling into the next generation, i.e. having a high school with an Indian mascot whereas the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee had to ban the Tomahawk Chop at sports games. Let alone, my brilliant beautiful funny teenage Haitian/Inuit daughter at Four Rivers Charter Public School of Greenfield had to walk away from her classmates’ debate on how to pronounce the word Iroquois. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary said, “\ˈir-ə-ˌkwȯi also -ˌkwä\.” She was told she was wrong. Mind you, she is a member of the Native Tribal Scholars program and attended the six-week overnight camp at University of Massachusetts Amherst this past summer.
It seems that citizens need to be educated. I write this after my attendance at Monday night’s Board of Selectman Jan. 13, 2014 meeting in Turners Falls. I only knew of the meeting since I read Recorder Staff Chris Curtis’ “Battle or Massacre?: Turners delays vote on study grant proposal” Jan. 10, 2014 article.
There were at least 11 attendees for Mr. David Brule’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) grant proposal that Selectman Chairman Mark E. Fairbrother of Montague denied Brule last week.
I found on VIMEO under “Montague Community Television Videos,” the Jan. 6th Selectmen meeting where Fairbrother said, “No, I didn’t want it on the agenda…it’s not appropriate.”
Fairbrother continuously questioned Brule about the lengthy grant proposal and found ways to dispute each piece. I even overheard one audience member whisper, “what is his problem?”
Yet, it seems Kristen McMasters, ABPP Grants Manager of the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., would be the judge not Fairbrother. Meanwhile, the ABPP grant proposal deadline is fast approaching for 4 p.m. on Jan. 17, 2014.
Fairbrother even said there were “incorrect statements or spin by the grant writer.”
However, Brule submitted letters from accomplished educated Native Americans of MA with his application. One letter came from Nipmuc Nation member, Dr. Rae Gould. She is a University of Massachusetts Amherst Anthropology Dept. Lecturer and Repatriation Coordinator. Gould continuously works to preserve Native American artifacts that the Federal Government made a law. It happened in 1990 known as Native American Graves Protection Act (NAGPRA).
Yet, Fairbrother made the comment about “those quote-n-quote professionals” would essentially be unscrupulous and that the 300-year-old artifacts must be dug up, moved, disturbed by now.
Local Montague resident Jeff Singleton, a reporter for the night and G.M.R.S.D. School Committee Finance member was called upon by Fairbrother when he raised his hand. Though he only asked Brule a question. Yet, Joe Graveline, President of the Nolumbeka Project of Greenfield, was first denied to speak by Fairbrother then allowed to share his expertise, knowledge and desire for the proposal to be accepted.
The Nolumbeka Project is one organization that Brule added to his application. The Mashpee Wampanoag, Nipmuc, Narragansett, Aquinnah Wampanoag, Stockbridge-Munsee and Mohegan tribes agreed to assist Brule.
Michael Muller of Montague a.k.a. “Mik” wrote on Jan. 6th on The MontagueMa.net corkboard:
Partners include: Historical Commissions of Montague, Gill, Deerfield, Greenfield; Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head/Aquinnah; Nipmuck Tribe of Massachusetts; Narragansett Indian Tribe.
Also, as advisors: Historic Deerfield, Inc.; Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association; The Nolumbeka Project; The Wampanoag Tribe of Mashpee; The Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe of Mahican Indians; The Mohegan Tribe of Uncasville, CT; FRCOG.
The groups listed above are all reputable, hard-working, thoughtful groups. I heard Brule mention how the Mass. House of Representatives Stephen Kulik of S. Deerfield met with Town Administrator Frank Abbondanzio and himself in Town Hall on Monday. That is great news! Also, I wrote to Congressman Jim McGovern last Friday and received a call back from his office. The Congressman voted for the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendment Act of 2013 on April 9, 2013. The government is ready to assist change! Abbondanzio shared that if the grant proposal was accepted, it could lead to Native American tourism. That is another piece to share upon another day.
I found from Singleton’s MontagueMa.net corkboard Jan. 12th comment that The National Register of Historic Places does have one historic area listed for Turners Falls. It’s item number 82004966 in the National Register Information System from May 1982 whereas its titled -The Turners Falls Historic District located “Roughly bounded by Connecticut River, Power Canal, 9th and L Street.
The history, the significance and the people to change the land we rest upon is here. Support Brule, the above mentioned organizations or tribes & others walking down the street. I ask you condemn the racist jokes, the stereotypes of Indians/Native Americans/Aboriginals for the next generation.