This year the Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award was awarded to Cultural Survival board member, Ramona Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag) for her commitment to sustaining the cultural values of her people by the First Peoples Fund. Ramona works with clay and other natural materials making ceramic vessels.
Peters uses and teaches the ways of the ancestors with a sense of awareness to collaborate with the elements of fire, water, earth, and air. She chose to revive the lost form of Wampanoag pottery, which she describes as “bringing a long-lost relative back home”. Ramona uses her art form to culturally nourish tribal community members and reinforce their knowledge of ancient practices. Oftentimes, upon returning home she finds freshly dug clay on her doorsteps from community members. She says, “In the old days someone known for his/her gracefulness and careful way of walking through the world was assigned the job of carrying the family cooking pot.” She finds joy in teaching others and has a deep desire to use her knowledge as a form of healing. Some of her students have gone on to teach their own children.
“Ramona embraces the essence of her cultural heritage…in her humble yet forthright way, she demands that her own people, the wider community with which she interacts, and humanity face themselves spiritually, and in relation to their own histories.” - Ellen Lutz , former Executive Director of Cultural Survival.
Read more about the prize here.