Honoring Indigenous People

CVUUS worship opens with a ringing of the bell and saying:We recognize that CVUUS gathers on the land of the Western Abenaki people. We respect their spiritual relationship to the land. We hope to learn from them how we can live together in peace and justice.” 

Fuller Event Opening Language: “I want to start this event by acknowledging that we (or for Zoom, ‘most of us’) are gathered here and holding this Meeting on the unceded traditional homelands of the Abenaki People, their Ancestors, and allies. Please join me in acknowledging the Abenaki community, their elders both past and present, as well as future generations. Let us not look away from the exclusions and erasures of Indigenous Peoples, including those on whose land we live, work, and witness. May we be committed to dismantling the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism here in Ndakinna – the place the Abenaki People call Our Land. Thank you.”

Watch CVUUS worship with Abenaki Chief Don Stevens: our guest worship speaker on Feb 28 in a service led by Liam Greenwood who co-leads the Native Moons Group. Go to https://youtu.be/JEPV9Mi4Mj4

Watch Dawnland, a documentary done in and about Maine and its Indigenous Peoples and the work of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission established by the Chiefs of the Wabanaki Confederacy and the State of Maine. Middlebury Friends Meeting’s Cheryl Mitchell purchased a license to view the film for a year. You can join Friends in discussing the film in March. Watch the Blast. Here is the link to the 54 minute version: https://vimeo.com/497022254 Password: fifteen.orange.ball.

Support CVUUS’ March Share the Plate Donees

Vermont Abenaki Artists Assn. promotes regional Indigenous arts,  artists, and culture by providing an organized central place to share creative ideas, and professional development. It creates engaging cultural eventseducational programs, exhibitions, and curriculum materials and represents over 280 artists, teaching artists, performers, educators, and scholars. We’ll collect for them in the first half of March. For more, visit abenakiart.org.

Abenaki Helping Abenaki’s mission of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation is to strengthen our government; to build our community, and ensure sustainability; to protect our customs and traditions; and to revive our culture and celebrate our heritage while sharing it with those around us. N’dakinna (our homeland) is nestled among the lakes, rivers, and forests of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.  Our connection to this land cannot be described in any language.  It is our birthright and obligation to advocate for our ancestral territory so that its uniqueness and beauty will be protected for the generations to come.  Look for displays at Burlington International Airport, Echo Museum, and Ethan Allen Homesite. We’ll collect for them in the second half of March. For more, visit abenakitribe.org

Indigenous Peoples Day

This was an official VT state holiday, replacing Columbus Day for the second year on the second Monday in Oct. What a great opportunity to   create some family traditions for honoring the original people of these hills and  valleys, and other Indigenous Peoples around the world.  Find at least one to do, maybe more, to tie into UU values of valuing the inherent worth and dignity of each person, and searching for the truth, and working toward a more just world. Here are a few things you might do to mark this holiday, or any time of year, from Montpelier’s Dir. of Religious Exploration Liza Earle Centers.

Watch the Abenaki Creation Story. It is powerful to hear the Abenaki language spoken.

Keep the Abenaki language alive! Abenaki leaders are trying to teach more and more people the language.

Clean up our own way of speaking, to make sure we’re not spreading myths about Indigenous People or using hurtful phrases or micro-aggressions.  Learn which every day phrases to leave out of our speaking here.  (For some Abenaki, the  phrase “Native Vermonter” can be hard to hear said by a non-Abenaki. It’s easy to just say “born in Vermont” instead.)

Learn more and support indigenous authors. Consider buying or borrowing books by indigenous authors: some picture books or some for youth/young adultsPeruse the CVUUS Library reading list: https://www.cvuus.org/learning/library/reading-lists-2/native-american-perspectives/

A land project: Abenaki have always been and continue to be stewards of the land.  Spend some time in nature, connecting with the Earth.  You think of a project you could do to care for the land the way it cares for us–plant a tree or bush, pick-up trash, get a bird feeder for the long winter ahead.

Feast with some of these traditional Abenaki foods. ??You might want to include several of these in a meal: squash, corn, beans, pumpkin seeds, popcorn, berries, sunflower oil, fish or a dessert with maple syrup!  Here’s an article about a local Abenaki chef.

Celebrate: Some good news: just in the last month, a bill passed the VT State legislature that place name signs within VT State Parks will include the Abenaki name for a place along with the English name (if the Abenaki place name is known).

Native Moons and Natural Mindfulness Group

This new small group ministry led by Liam and Mike Greenwood aims at celebrating the Abenaki and Iroquois lunar cycle. We are an informal group reading chapters of Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and holding discussions and sharing our writing on Zoom.  We are also offering some outdoor activities and then we have a chat about the chapter afterward.  This group is open to anyone, and you are free to drop in. Please email liambattjes@gmail.com if you are going to join us for a Zoom or an in person event so that if weather changes or something becomes uncertain, he will know who to contact.

Three Sisters Online Worship Service, Sun. Sept. 27, 10 AM featuring MUHS Grace Vining who, along with a Burlington student Theo Ellis Novtny, won an award for young film makers for this short film on need for teaching Abenaki culture. This was led by Native Moons’ Liam Greenwood. You can watch the whole service here and Grace and Theo’s documentary here: https://youtu.be/WyDVh9RSgJ8. 

Harvest Moon, Tues Sept 1, The garden party started at Mike and Liam’s home at 5:30 PM and the zoom call/conversation started at 7 PM. Up to 12 people brought something they made or grew to celebrate the harvest. We played conversational croquet (set up like mini-golf with discussion questions.) This is a great game for social distancing. We read The Honorable Harvest (p.175) from Braiding Sweetgrass.

Strawberry Moon, Sunday June 21. “Philo” means love.  Strawberries are associated with generous love.  What fruit or plant reminds you of love and why? Hike: Some took their own hikes or walks or joined the Greenwoods for a hike up Mt. Philo in Charlotte, VT and gathered to share a bit of mindfulness with masks donned and keeping some safe distance between non-household members. When hiking they looked for signs of generosity and love. What plant or aspect of nature do you receive as a generous gift? How does that invite you into a relationship? Eat: After hiking, people were encouraged to return home to eat , enjoying strawberries in some fashion! Reflect: Later that night by zoom they shared responses to the natural mindfulness questions offered for the hike. They provided quotes and writing prompts.

Full Blueberry Moon  Sunday, July 5  Fruity Sundaes at 7 pm with Zoom (pairings) gathering. Went berry picking around 3 pm — invited friends to join you. What fruits and nuts remind you of home? Braiding Sweetgrass, The Council of Pecans, p. 11 and Blueberries for Sal or Jamberry. Things Happening in the Natural World: Finding fruit in nature and plants reseeding. Migrant workers leaving home to follow the harvest seasons.