Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine

Features

Native land loss, the policies that enabled it, and the subsequent consequences on Native American tribes in Massachusetts was the subject of a panel discussion at Suffolk University last April. “A Hidden History: How Massachusetts Law and Policy Facilitated the Loss of Tribal Lands” convened with an opening blessing by Jim Peters, executive director of the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs.
Summer Turtle Program youth, ranging in age from 5-12, swarm around reporter Sally Mairs as soon as she reveals her handheld microphone and shiny recorder. Mairs has just arrived at Maushop Farm in Mashpee, Massachusetts to visit with staff and students at the annual day camp hosted by the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project for three weeks each summer. “Who can introduce themselves in their language for me?” she asks from the midst of the crush of a dozen children surrounding her. Paul raises his hand quickly.
For more than 40 years, Native Americans from the Boston area and around New England have gathered at 105 South Huntington Avenue in Jamaica Plain, MA to find support and embrace their Native heritage. Formerly a girl’s detention center, the building was reincorporated in 1970. What were once jail cells are now covered in Native American adornments; murals from the 1970s are painted in hallways, and the history of New England’s oldest Native American center is embedded in every room.
I like to think I had the ultimate childhood, one of those you see in movies and think can't be possible. Although I did not live on the reservation after the age of five, I spent a significant amount of time there with my grandmother, Theresa Hayward, who lived on Elizabeth George Drive—named after my great grandmother who had spent her life living on the reservation. My extended family lived on two streets, the first phase of government housing built on the reservation.
For centuries, the Passamaquoddy people of Maine have faced a violation of their inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples. They have been repeatedly displaced from their original lands by European settlers since the 16th century, eventually limited to their current reservation in eastern Washington County, Maine. Now their fishing rights —an intrinsic part of Passamaquoddy culture and sustenance —are threatened, under the ironic pretext of equal protection for state fishermen.
In 1980, the Penobscot Nation entered into an agreement with the United States and the state of Maine to settle claims to millions of acres of their Aboriginal territory. After years of paternalistic control by the state, the members of the Penobscot Nation believed they were entering into a new era of cooperation. However, the parties’ differing interpretations of the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act have been a source of continual conflict.
This past February and March, Cultural Survival radio producer Rosy Sul González and staff member Jessie Cherofsky visited the Kuna, Ngöbe, Bribri, and Brunca communities in Panama and Costa Rica to exchange ideas on community radio, Indigenous rights, and cultural survival. They distributed radio programs on the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, held workshops on the principles and practices of community radio, and interviewed elders and leaders about their communities.