This lost Native language of Massachusetts is waking up again | What is Bermuda’s Connection to the Pequot

This lost Native language of Massachusetts is waking up again

READ: This lost Native language of Massachusetts is waking up again PRI´s The World | First Nations Blog – FIRST NATIONS

AND THIS:

By Lara Trace Hentz  (She Covers the Trail)

AQUAY!  Hello, greetings to you in Pequot!  BERMUDA Greeting :: Yo Ace Boy! (Hello good friend!)

This blog still has the theme:  “What you’re not supposed to know” (regarding cracking open Indian history, especially here in New England.)

I have also used this headline:

I don’t know why we don’t know this stuff

It’s heinous how the historic narrative calls American Indians/Native Americans “disappeared, the vanished, relics of the past,” but you will see in these stories, tribes do manage to survive every attempt to erase them and their culture, language and history right here in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

(above video) Jessie Little Doe’s work has helped revitalize and resurrect the Wampanoag language.  I interviewed her many years ago.  What was almost lost forever has been re-claimed, thanks to Jessie.

I blogged here in 2011 about Brinky Tucker who is a historian and descendant of the New England Indians who were sold into slavery into Bermuda.  He authored “St. David’s Island, Bermuda, Its People, History and Culture” – published in 2009, (not on Amazon – but it should be!)  The history of Bermuda involves slavery of Indigenous people… [Book cover, top photo: Tall Oak Weeden (Wampanoag-Pequot) and Brinky Tucker (Bermuda Indian)]. See: Brinky Tucker on Bermuda Indian History

BACK STORY: …relative isolation lasted until the 1930s, when a bridge was constructed connecting St. David’s Island with the rest of Bermuda.  Although there was intermarriage and cohabitation with African slaves, European colonists, and imported Carib Indians, these descendants of New England tribes passed on “origin stories” that connect five St. David’s families, stories about an Indian slave woman named Susannah who claimed to be the granddaughter of King Phillip and traditions of chanting and drumming at a hillside location called Dark Bottom.  After the 1834 emancipation, most former slaves stayed on St. David’s and continued to intermarry with each other.

“Most of the St. David’s Islanders today are of mixed blood,” says St. Clair Tucker, or Brinky, as he prefers to be called, one of the founding members of the St. David’s Island Indian Committee. “The first Indian slave arrived on our shores in 1616, and for the next 200 years the English developed a very profitable slave trade with Africans and Native Americans. Documents prepared by the English indicate that Pequots, Wampanoags, Narragensetts, Cherokees, Mohegans, Carib, Arowacks and Indians from Central and South America were sold here.  The only trading port was in St. George’s, about 150 yards from St. David’s….”

In 2002, the Mashantucket Pequot had ceremony to reconnect with their enslaved ancestors, their brothers and sisters found in Bermuda.  Brinky and family members came to Connecticut to meet their Pequot cousins (that’s when I met him) and the next year the Pequot traveled to Bermuda.  Making this connection made new history and friendships that continue to this day.

For decades, tribal culture is its own power and lives in the blood, and shows itself in song, dance and language.

When I spoke with Brinky, he’d met with Pequot tribal council who asked simply, “What do you want?” You might guess the world’s richest tribe was skeptical at first of this history connection.  That is the worrisome part.  Tribes themselves are often unaware of the slavery and mixing that happened in prior centuries, even in Bermuda.

Then-Chairman Michael J. Thomas, a Mashantucket tribal leader, went to St. David’s Island in Bermuda to reconnect with Brinky and other Bermuda Indians.

Brinky told the Bermuda newspaper:

“The Native American involvement in Bermuda over the years has been very significant,” he said. “They weren’t always well treated. Some of the stories aren’t pleasant, but it’s better that we know our history.”

He added that the English colonists who originally enslaved the Pequot Indians might well be surprised that their descendants are now celebrating their links to a troubled time. “The English kept great records,” he said. “Little did they know that we’d read them.”

 THEY LOOKED LIKE US
from MANY HOOPS

St. David’s was completely isolated in those early days; in fact, it remained accessible only by boat until as late as 1934.

Beginning around 1616 Wampanoag, Pequots, Narragansetts, Cherokees, Mohegans, Carib, Arowacks and Indians from Central and South America were sold in Bermuda.

“Tall Oak” Weeden and a delegation of Wampanoag Indians and Mashantucket Pequots went in search of their people from the slavery era.

They traveled to St. David’s Island in Bermuda.  There they met a small clan claiming to be descended from New England Indian slaves shipped to the island centuries ago.  Weeden’s group was convinced it was true when they saw the faces, dances and ceremonies of the St. David’s Indians.

“I was struck by how much they looked like us,” said Michael J. Thomas, a Mashantucket tribal leader.

According to local legend, the wife and son of King Philip might have been among those on St. David’s.  After the king’s death, his wife, Wootonekanuske, is said to have married an African.  This kept alive the genealogical line with Indians in New England. The Pequots plan to dig even further into slavery’s hidden history, Thomas said.  “What’s to be learned is a more accurate perception of Colonial-era history,” he said. “It helps people to understand our insecurities of today.”

If you are into history, here is a link to a short paper about Bermuda’s Native American DNA ancestry. HERE

From Restless Natives, from the Bermuda newspaper THE BERMUDIAN here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pequot War of 1634 to 1638 saw the English colonists of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay join forces with the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes in an attempt to unseat the Pequot, who enjoyed economic and political power in what is now southeastern Connecticut.

“The colonists has guns,” Tucker said.  “The Indians had bow and arrows.”

Captain Anthony White, the largest landowner in Bermuda at the time, purchased these 80 Native Americans. They were sent to live on St. David’s Island and put to work as farmers, boat builders, labourers and fishermen. From that point, the connection between Native Americans and St. David’s was established- and aided, over the following years, by the island’s close proximity to the local slave market.

“When they were brought here, the trading port was St. George’s,” Tucker explained. “Slaves were sold in the square, and masters from St. George’s and St. David’s got the first pick.”

*** Virtual: St David

On the island of St David, a cultural mishmash represents the diversity of Bermudian culture.  The Carter House is a testament to the varied groups of people who settled here, exploring the history of the English, black West Indians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Native Americans and even Scottish and Irish prisoners of war (carterhousemuseum.org).

 

P.S. I left the Pequot Times in 2004.  (I quit and moved to Massachusetts).  The monthly newspaper continued barely another year and then folded.  Massive layoffs by the Pequot Tribal Government shut it down.  That was a huge loss for the tribe and for Connecticut…. and for history.

Melissa, Medicine Woman for the Mohegan tribe, named me “She Covers the Trail.”  My Native friend English professor poet Ron Welburn keeps in close contact with Brinky and has visited him.  Brinky and I exchange Christmas cards.

ojibwe_style_moccasi_cover_for_kindleP.S.S.– If you have any interest in Native authors (and you should), go visit www.bluehandbooks.org – we just published Ojibwe Style Moccasin Game, a handbook by Charles Grolla on how to play the oldest Ojibwe game, given to man by makwa (bear.)

***VERY IMPORTANT

“Who Belongs?” in Indian Country Conference Convenes March 9–10, 2017  TUCSON, ARIZONA – The “Who Belongs? From Tribal Kinship to Native Nation Citizenship to Disenrollment…

READ: A First: Tribal Leaders, Academics to Convene to Discuss Tribal Disenrollment – Native News Online

CODE: Finding Papers You Exist #YIPP #BadHistory

reunion Pana 1994
meeting my family the first time in 1994 (my dad Earl is on the right)

By Lara Trace (Cherokee-Shawnee-French Canadian-Euro mix)

If you are an American Indian/First Nations/Indigenous, which many of you are, you may find it exceedingly difficult to find paper records that CONFIRM what tribe you think you are… or were told you are.

For example, on Earl’s side of my family, Earl’s aunt Bessie, referred to us as BLACK DUTCH, which is “code” for Cherokee.  My first conversation with my dad he told me we are Indian.  Mystery solved? Not quite.

Code is not uncommon at all.  Since I have been in reunion, my cousin Cathy and I have dug up tons on the “code” and how it makes sense Bessie would say that — since if you were Indian, you’d be forcibly removed to Indian Territory (then malaria-ridden Oklahoma) and you couldn’t own land and that was terrifying, potentially fatal. (Thank you Bessie for telling people that repeatedly.)

shawnee

For New England tribes, that matter of having “papers” means you exist. For many tribes here, every time you went to Hartford or Boston to make a claim with the courts, you made a record: that paper is now buried in old boxes.  Why would that matter now?

Paper has to exist for you to be federally recognized.  Then as a sovereign you are entitled to promises made when the federal government (not the states) made treaty with your tribe or band.  You’d finally get some of your stolen land back, maybe even compensated!

When I was editor of the Pequot Times, I met with leaders of the Eastern Pequot bands who had done extensive paper research in their bid for federal recognition. They found documents hidden in boxes under Flora and Fauna in Hartford, Connecticut, secret code for “wild indians.”  To this day, the Eastern Pequot are NOT federally recognized and it’s not only frustrating for them (trying over 40+ years), but devious on the part of the FEDS.  (I worked for the Western Pequot or Mashantucket who are recognized). One can only imagine what will happen when PAPERS are found that feds and BIA cannot reject and no longer deny for ANY Eastern tribe.  (Old tricks worked a long time for the clever feds/BIA – demanding paper proof.)

Paper can change things, and I’d mentioned The Yale Indian Papers Project on this blog HERE

From June 29th to July 1st the Yale Indian Papers Project hosted an NEH-sponsored Digital Native American & Indigenous Studies workshop at Yale Divinity School and at the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage. The three-day event introduced participants to issues of access, preservation, and methodology related to the use of digitized cultural heritage materials in the context of tribal communities and cultures from the territories east of the Mississippi River.

UPDATE:  The Yale Indian Papers Project (YIPP), which first came to YALE in 2003, is an extensive publishing endeavor to digitize the collection of primary source materials relating to New England’s Native American history.  It draws from the archives of numerous institutions, including the Yale University Library, Harvard University Library, The Massachusetts Archives and the National Archives of the United Kingdom.  Researchers are currently working to gather information on the people who lived in the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies.   On Aug. 12, the project announced that it had been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, allowing it to expand its work in Massachusetts for three more years. Read More

Both Tobias Glaza and executive editor Paul Grant-Costa said the Indian Papers Project has helped forge new relationships between Yale and Native communities for the first time in several centuriesGrant-Costa said the initial idea for the project arose more than two decades ago as a result of the challenges New England’s Native tribes first faced when trying to become recognized by the federal government. In order for these long-marginalized communities to win recognition, they first need access to historical material that has not been easily accessible in the past, he said.* [I went to their first meetings]

Tribes need paper to exist?  Indeed.  It sounds crazy, and so ludicrous.

Paper is crucially important and having it will break the CODE of erased Indian history right here in New England… no, not all Indians in the east are dead… (bad history again, yes.)

FINALLY we will see papers that reflect truth… finally.

[*YIPP editors are happy the grant will extend their work in Massachusetts for three more years.  Taken together with the Mellon/CLIR and National Archives grants, the editorial efforts will last more than four years, adding 1,650 documents to the New England Indian Papers Series.]

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My friend and fellow blogger/author Trav S. D. [Travalanche] has done quite a bit of research, too. He’s a contributor to THE MIX e-mag, and he’s a Cherokee mix like me.

A thoughtful agent friend noticed the growing snowball of posts on Travalanche about American history and my family’s role therein.  Some posts are more focused on my ancestors, some involve me personally, and some are more like op-eds that have grown out of my meditation on my people’s role in our history. As you begin to see, they almost begin to stack up to something like a history of the nation, with an emphasis on race and class, and a greater than normal emphasis on pop culture, and I do believe that’s where I’m bound.  The posts themselves are just raw material — they’re not necessarily what would find their way into the book, they just lay the groundwork.

The Founding of Tennessee and Kentucky, Western New York and Ohio

Davy Crockett

The Second Great Awakening

The Star Spangled Banner 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton 

American Utopianism from 19th Century to Now

The Real Grizzly Adams

William Holland Thomas and the Eastern Band of Cherokee

In addition, these travel posts mention references to places and people in my background: Newport, Salem, Providence, South Street Seaport, and New Orleans.  Many more of these are planned. Also (probably) to come are posts on the French and Indian war, Indian removal, the War of 1812, the Spanish-American war, the World Wars, the Cold War, and enhanced posts on Irish and German ancestors….

READ: A Personal History of the United States (the Person Being ME)

 

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The Power of John Trudell #BlueIndians

john trudell
James “Jimmy” Looks Twice in Thunderheart, played by John Trudell.

 

By Lara Trace (former editor of the Pequot Times 1999-2004)

It happened years ago… but I can still feel myself outside the Pequot Museum on a bench and the wind is really blowing and John is speaking about his album, and latest tour.

I knew I’d have to read what he said a few times after I listened to the tape I made.  John Trudell was deep, so deep, with level upon level of meaning in both his spoken words and lyrics.  I’d hear him, then I’d process more after a second or third listen… I can’t forget what he said about power and responsibility – you’ll read what he said in this interview.  With the next presidential election whirling around us, it’s hard not to feel powerless. But we are not powerless.

You all know John was an great actor. He was unforgettable in the movie THUNDERHEART.  (Top Photo.) I was lucky to interview him more than once.  (I spoke with him at the Honor the Earth powwow in 1999 in Wisconsin.)  John had a fiery spirit yet he was also fragile.  I felt good energy all around him; his strength was palpable.  After he lost his family, everyone wondered how he’d survive that, even years later. I don’t know how any human could survive intact after your entire family was killed by a house fire.  John did.  John mourned deeply and soared above loss.

From my notes, I was glad when Trudell explained how belief (as in religion belief) takes the place of thinking. I jotted in my notes, “Don’t believe – THINK.  We put a whole lot of energy into HOPE and BELIEF and that energy falls into a void and disappears…. You BELIEVE so you don’t have to think…… You HOPE so you don’t have to truly act – it’s a sedation (drug). Nothing changes, religion is brainwashing the consciousness of people desperate to believe…. this just puts the mind in a prison…

“Violence, terror and traumas has defeated tribal belief systems from tribal Europe thru today… and then the traumatized blame themselves….. and the beast continues to get bigger.  The answer is NON-COOPERATION and a clear thinking human being….”  Trudell didn’t waste any words.

The story I’d heard about Trudell (more than once) was he could walk into a group of angry white ranchers full of their prejudice about Indian people and they’d all walk out of the room with their arms over each others shoulders.  That was John.

Here’s what I wrote up back in 2000…

 

Trudell kicks off Pequot Museum concert series

Poet, activist, prophet, American Indian Movement (AIM) founder, actor and recording artist John Trudell (Santee), made a concert stop with his band Bad Dog, at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in May (2000).

Trudell uses words as medicine, so his political and poetic abilities created the new album Blue Indians, on Dangerous Discs records, released in 1999, his ninth album, produced by Jackson Browne.

“I called the album Blue Indians because there is a kind of spiritual and cultural genocide perpetrated on everyone that is poor in this country,” Trudell said. “The advance of technology has put all of us on a kind of reservation.  These are the people who can’t educate their children, or afford health care. They’ve been robbed of life, which is what happened to Native people, so in that context, we’re all Indians.”

The “spoken word” artist said he didn’t set out to be a poet or writer.  After an unspeakable tragedy took the lives of his wife, Tina, their three children and Tina’s mother, back in 1979, he started writing.  The fire that killed them was declared an accident by the FBI who declined to investigate.  This happened just 12 hours after a group marched to FBI headquarters in Wash. DC, where Trudell delivered an address on the FBI’s war against Native Americans.  He burned an American flag in protest of racism and class injustice.  To this day, Trudell believes government operatives set the blaze, “It was murder. They were murdered as an act of war.”  [READ MORE ABOUT TINA]

After 1971, Native men and women formed the national American Indian Movement, in response to the horrific conditions on reservations and the many unsolved murders.  Trudell served as National AIM Chairman from 1973-79.  During that time the FBI compiled a 17,000 page file (covering Trudell’s activities from 1969-80).

Of some 60 pages obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, describing Trudell as a major threat to national security, the memo said, “Extremely eloquent – therefore extremely dangerous.”

Writing has helped Trudell keep some sanity and continue to survive.  In 1981, he published a book of poetry “Living in Reality” and by 1982 combined music and poetry, with the help of his musician friends Jackson Browne and future collaborator Jesse Ed Davis, a Kiowa from Oklahoma.

When asked how he deals with anger, Trudell told one reviewer, “I look at it as healthy.  It’s like sadness.  There’s a reason we’re given certain feelings. I think anger is necessary to our survival and reality, but now we live in a technology reality where people are programmed not to accept their anger.  I think we can use it as fuel for clarity, focus and accomplishment.  Anger doesn’t have to be a distorting experience.”

In May, the band played songs from the album Blue Indians, while Trudell spoke his poetic lyrics.  About promoting the album, he said later, “We don’t tour like other bands.  We hit the road sometimes for a week, or several weeks.  It’s more practical for us.”

I met John at LCO in 1999
I met John at LCO in 1999 and he signed it!

In concert, Trudell referred to humans as being mined, like resources, such as minerals, and reminded us we are indeed composed of the earth’s materials.  After the concert, he explained the effects of mining humans, “The feeling of powerlessness that this society has, I think is a result of mining humans because the people do feel powerless.  I think no clear, coherent thinking people, would accept as normal the conditions that they have to accept.  So, the only reason I can see that people would accept the inequities, are because they feel powerless to deal with them.  The powerlessness may disguise itself as rage, or racial hatred, or sexism, it may disguise itself in many ways, but basically the common thread is a feeling of powerlessness among the people.

“That means all the aggressive attitudes basically get internalized.  I think that’s the obvious result of being mined as an individual.  If they are being real with themselves, no pretending, no justification or rationalization, how many people feel that they have any real power?

“How many people feel powerless to deal with situations put in their life?  It’s got to do with perceptional reality.  If you use our intelligence as clearly and coherently as we can, I think we’d understand that we are not necessarily powerless.  But we don’t know how to relate to power, or recognize it, therefore we don’t know how to exercise it.”

And, Trudell said we can’t accept this idea of being mined because we can’t recognize it or see it.

“We’re not taught about our personal relationship to power.  We’re not taught about our relationship to the Great Spirit.  Recognizing power is what you have to do.  When you recognize it, you exercise it.

“You can’t take back what they have already taken but you can stop the taking of your power, once you recognize it.”

On the importance of prayer, John said he prays for balance.  “Prayer is often a misused word.  There are people who pray for things to make them happy so I don’t know if they’re really praying.  Then there are people who pray for the welfare of others.  Some people don’t pray so much for their own individualized ego, but understand that prayer is a way of thinking in harmony with the Creator.  Praying is a way of participating with the Creator.

“Prayer that is based upon thought and feeling, then that prayer is participating.  Prayer that is based upon need and emotion, that prayer is not participating in a synchronized manner, because it’s based on the ego’s need and emotion.”

“Responsibility is the way to fulfillment, when one recognizes and exercises their responsibility, this is how one is to be free.  It’s a way of reconnecting with power for us as humans.”

On his own life, Trudell said, “I see as clearly as I can. The objective is for me to be as real to myself as I can possibly be.  The more real I can be to myself, the more real maybe I can be to other people.  It’s a challenge.”

(Published in the Pequot Times.)

trudell truth trudell_no sense

 

We lost John in 2015.

Indian Country Today on John Trudell Legacy

This entire post is relevant to this quote:

Clarke quote

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Thoughts on a very big mystery and my latest adoption miracle

my friend Rae is in the book MISSISSIPIANS
my friend Rae is in the book MISSISSIPIANS because she’s a famous opera singer

By Lara Trace

In mid-April my husband and I took a road-trip to visit our friends from Austria who also keep a family home in Gulfport, Mississippi.

My friend/sister/relative Dr. Raeschelle Potter-Deimel (left) is originally from Gulfport and at one time worked as an opera singer at the Met in New York City and on many stages in Europe and Austria.  After opera, Rae became a renowned doctor of anthropology in Vienna!  (She has American Indian and African American ancestry.)

Rae and I met in person at the American Indian Workshop (AIW) in Munich in 2005 but we’d actually met earlier via phone and email when I was editor of the Pequot Times in Connecticut.  Rae had told me about the AIW and put me in touch with them.  So my academic paper Power Politics and the Pequot: America’s Richest Indians was my first paper at AIW; then it was published in Poland, Italy and Germany. Many European historians were curious about the modern-day Mashantucket Pequot, including my friend Rae …luckily I had spent 5 years editing their tribal newspaper and their annual reports (1999-2004).  With so little known or written about this hugely successful tribe, I offered a more modern view of their activity and successes. I was interviewed by the BBC and a German TV station so my Pequot paper was NEWS! (Of course I was very pleased they liked my presentation… I am now an official member of the AIW and invited to give a paper every year…) Later Rae and I wrote a paper together on the adoption projects and we continue to talk on the phone and make every effort to see each other when they come to the US.

Dr. Rae, the anthropologist, lectures about Native American history in Europe and writes and gives papers regularly. What I never realized until I met her:  in Europe they teach a true version of Native and American history, with all it’s complications, gore and tragedy. Europeans actually know more than Americans know about American Indian history… Rae, in particular, is aware of the discrepancies and revisions in American history textbooks that purposefully glorify the invader-conqueror-colonizer and portray American Indians as vanquished, disappeared, drunk and/or dead.

Currently Rae is drafting a book on Texas Lumbee history and even though I retired from my publisher duties at Blue Hand Books in January this year, I do plan to help her get this remarkable book published in the near future. This trip we met to talk about the Lumbee book and just smooze like sisters do…

TracesBookFINAL.indd
my memoir

I’ve now been to Gulfport twice, my only trips to the Gulf Coast, and both times I remembered a story my birthfather Earl Bland had told me. I was sitting at his kitchen table in Pana, Illinois when I was 38 (in 1994), meeting my dad for the very first time. He was standing up and calmly said, “You have a brother in New Orleans and I think he’s an attorney.” I NEVER forgot this!  (Did I ask questions? No. I was in a state of shock just being in reunion.)

From Gulfport, it is an easy drive to New Orleans. My husband and I had lunch in the French Quarter our last trip.  Again Earl’s words haunted me… I have a brother in Louisiana.  But how could I ever solve this mystery or find this missing brother? I didn’t know his name! Earl died in 1996 and he never elaborated on his story.

I could have a brother (?) or I did have a brother. I wasn’t sure.  Teresa and I were close; she was my half-sister (same dad) and she never mentioned this in the 20 years we’d been in reunion!  I wasn’t even sure if Earl had met this son. Yet somehow Earl believed he was an attorney?  (Earl raised 5 kids who are my half-siblings. I’ve met them and we all thought I was the only one given up for adoption.)

When Herb and I got back from our roadtrip, we headed to Philadelphia for a funeral. My husband’s cousin Gwenny had died. The night before her funeral, sitting in our hotel, we watched on TV how two sisters who were separated by adoption met in a writing class at the same college in New York City. This was my first time seeing them reunited on TV.  More than one person had told me about this miracle!

(READ: Two Sisters United After Decades when They Take the Same Class: http://www.smartmomstyle.com/two-sisters-united-after-decades-when-they-take-the-same-class/#sthash.EwzQzD1l.dpuf)

That same Sunday night I got an email.

Because I wrote my memoir One Small Sacrifice and mentioned my first father is Earl Bland and his name had made its way onto the internet and onto Ancestry.com, my mystery brother found ME