Happy September! It’s back to more traditional learning for those in school; I’ve been fortunate to do my own learning outside a classroom over the last months, since I am now focusing my law practice on human rights and immigration law, particularly on assisting victims of gender-based violence and persecution — it’s been a good change!
Walpole report: There is much to tell you about the Gathering of Nations in Walpole but I’ll let my photos speak for the island’s unique beauty (visit tinyurl.com/Walpolepics — you don’t need to be on Facebook to view the photos) and focus this column on introductions to a few of the many special families and people I met there.
The first family I met on the island was the Isaac family. Elder Eric Isaac led the sunrise ceremony. His wife Delores Isaac and their son Cecil warmly welcomed us to the sacred fire with hugs and bug spray, and Delores spoke to us about how she and Eric and many other Walpole and First Nation children were wrested from their families, taken to residential boarding schools as part of implementation of the Indian Act, and physically punished for, among other things, speaking their language. That Eric led us in the sunrise ceremony in our language was all the more moving with that background knowledge.
After the ceremony, we ran into Cecil everywhere we went during the week, it seemed. Cecil is a retired social worker who operates Mishoomis, Anishinabe Consulting & Associates, from Walpole Island, teaching cultural values, practices and the good life road. He is a sound man in the two meanings of that phrase — he set up sound for the Gathering events, emceed the opening ceremonies, troubleshot and pitched in when needed and found time to introduce me to three of his children (who each have significant roles in supporting the Walpole community) and to Walpole’s fabulous community radio station, of which he is a founding member. Cecil’s son emceed the powwow and during Grand Entry made me a proud Potawatomi when he gave me a shout-out from the stage for my traditional pucker-toe Nishnabe mkeznen (moccasins). You can see a video of the Grand Entry (and hear the shout-out), here: tinyurl.com/Walpvideo (look for Aug. 6, 6:55 a.m. posting on this page).
Early on I also met Jerome (Moose) Isaac, another of Eric’s and Delores’ eight children. Moose operates Moose’s Woodworking & Crafts from Walpole. He is a dear man. He made a special dreamcatcher for one of our young people, District 2’s Hailey Pierce, after letting her know that her request should be accompanied by a gift of sage and tobacco. It was heartwarming to see the instruction and good feelings that passed among all of us throughout the Gathering. A photo of Moose, Hailey and the dream catcher are part of this column.
Another family I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know is the Elliott family. They are Potawatomi who are direct descendants of Potawatomi from Wisconsin who were forced into migration during the 1830 Indian removal act, landing on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. Their ancestors embedded with others of the Three Fires Confederacy, the Ojibwe and Odawa, in what is now Canada (Pre-Confederation). This removal of Potawatomi in the Great Lakes area began after the signing of the Treaty of Chicago in 1833.
In brief, a term of the treaty was removal of our people from our western Great Lakes homeland and way of life to locations west of the Mississippi, where the environment required a completely different pattern of life and also was territory of other Native American groups that were traditional enemies of or traders with the Three Fires Confederacy. Faced with that reality and the further reality that the American government did not honor its commitment to provide annuities, some of our people stayed in their homeland, some moved north because they had Canadian ties, and some retreated to Canada, hiding in forests to avoid capture by U.S. troops. During a Gathering workshop, siblings Geewadin, Winona and Beedahsiga Elliott presented on their family history and journey, and encouraged attendees to share their story, which I am doing here. Please see geni.com/projects/Potawatomi-Migration-from-Wisconsin-Michigan-to-Canada/31326 from which this summary was excerpted. Geewadin Elliott also presented at our all-tribal councils meeting with a message that work is underway for young leaders such as himself to seek recognition for an estimated 10,000 Potawatomi, living among several Ojibwe and Odawa First Nation Bands in Ontario.
The fourth family who I got to know is the Dodge family, and particularly Charlene Dodge, who opened her home and gardens to Potawatomi interested in learning about organic gardening. With Marcia Peters co-teaching, we learned about seed saving and the importance of repurposing and upcycling in the garden and protecting Mother Earth. Among the photos in the album I linked above are those of Charlene’s and her husband Austey’s pond, organic vegetable, herb and flower gardens, and whimsical and architectural features throughout. It is magical and nourishing land.
Upcoming meetings and events: Roy Slavin, District 1 Legislator, and I will be co-hosting our annual Fall Feast on Veterans’ Day, Saturday, Nov. 11. We will be honoring veterans and celebrating our young ones with special gifts. I hope you will join us for this potluck event, featuring a craft, discussions, visiting and an end-of-meeting giveaway. Postcard invitations will be mailed to those within driving distance of the Arlington, Virginia location but we are family and you are welcome to attend if you can get to us! It’s never too early to RSVP to Roy (email@example.com) or to me. On Friday, Dec. 1, a group of 12 of us will be able to tour our Potawatomi items in the archives of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Suitland, Maryland. The tour will run from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 or 4 p.m. We will have lunch before at Sweet Dee’s (my treat), on the Suitland campus, starting at 12:30 p.m. Please RSVP to me to reserve your spot. All details for both events are found on my website, evamariecarney.com, under the Calendar tab. We also will have a naming in the Arlington area on Friday, Nov. 24 — Native American Heritage Day (the day after Thanksgiving). Please contact me for more information.
Communication: Please keep in touch by phone, mail or online outreach via email or a Facebook message. We have about 175 District 2 folks participating on a private Facebook page — message me on Facebook if you’d like to join us. I look forward to hearing from you, to helping you as needed and to hearing how being a Potawatomi makes a difference in your worldview. Jagenogenon (all my relatives).
Migwetch (thank you) for the honor of representing you.