400 Years after 1620: Prayers for Seven Generations

by Peter Blood

In this 400th anniversary of the beginning of European settlement in the Northeastern U.S., two interfaith associations in Western Massachusetts are taking this opportunity to reflect and act towards justice for our Native sisters and brothers in our region. This concern was brought to us by Sr. Clare Carter of the New England Peace Pagoda and the following statement:

2020 is the 400th anniversary of the Plymouth Landing by the Pilgrims…. For Native Peoples, this marker in time signals a great cataclysm visited upon the Native peoples of the Northeast

The drive to fully ‘take over’ these beautiful lands grew as more settlers came to these shores, and in 50 brief years, Native People were dispossessed of their ancestral lands.  Their spiritually based culture and sacred tribal life came under full assault, making them outcasts in a European-dominated power structure. The loss and pervasive grief, as well as determined resistance of Native people continued. Even with this generational loss and tragedy, Native People are still living and still holding on to the spiritual threads stretching over 400 years.

2020 gives a needed opportunity to learn the truth of this history which Native People say it is still held in the earth, the waters, the air of the region and in the deep spirit of the people. The monks at the Peace Pagoda have come to understand that this time of reflection is a Divine gift for all of us. By learning the profound harm and destruction inherent in the way of colonization and conquest we can see more clearly how deeply we are called to change. What seeds do we need to plant to make a different, life-giving future for all human beings and all the sacred web of life?”

Pathways Forward:

  • Towards Truth: Listening to Indigenous voices

  • Towards Kinship: Owning and repudiating racist beliefs and doctrines

  • Towards Justice: Working together for respect, rights, and land for Native Peoples of the Northeast

  • You are invited to participate in a commemorative event at:

Unity Park in Turners Falls on Sunday, October 18th at 2pm (rain date of Oct. 25th).

If the pandemic prevents us from gathering safely, we will hold a virtual event. The program includes talks by Native leaders, prayers, music, and a decolonization ritual.

  • Fund raising for two reparational projects that support the needs and aspirations of Native People in our area.
  • Preparing a study guide and online films to help congregations explore ways they can act in solidarity with our Native neighbors.
  • The Massachusetts Senate voted unanimously to start the process of changing the genocidal imagery on our state flag and seal.
  • We will plan ways to get both houses of the legislature to act on this next year.

Please join us in this! If you are not in Western Massachusetts, plan activities in your own communities. Watch for more details in local papers and our websites:

Interfaith Opportunities Network https://interfaithamherst.org/

Interfaith Council of Franklin County https://www.facebook.com/allarewelcomeatthistable/

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