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Indigenous Heritage

Talks with or about Indigenous lives, people, history, wisdom

  • Cambridge Forum explores some indigenous thinking mixed with a little magic, talking to Jess Housty about her debut poetry collection, CRUSHED WILD MINT.

    Jess Housty is a Haíɫzaqv parent, writer, and land-based educator from the community of Bella Bella, BC. Housty lives in unceded ancestral homelands where she works in community building, food sovereignty, and leadership development. She is a freelance contributor to The Tyee and in addition to her debut poetry collection from Nightwood Editions, she has a forthcoming collection of essays due out shortly from Magic Canoe Press.

    Housty’s writing is enmeshed in her indigenous roots and values, “wealth is measured not by what you’ve accumulated but by what you give away. True abundance comes from community and turning a gift into more gifts”. She demonstrates this beautifully in “Sixty-Eight Plums”, a surprise bag of plums appears on her doorstep and provides an opportunity for her to carry the joy forward by making jars of plum jam, to leave at neighbors’ doors.

    Sixty-Eight Plums (by Jess Housty)

    When sixty-eight golden plums appear like a bowl of phosphorescence on your stoop, look both upward
    and all around you
    when you give a little thanks.

    It is no small feat
    that they have arrived here:

    Someone planted trees,
    smiling to themselves at the foolishness of growing plums in this climate
    where the rain makes everything soft— makes everyone soft.

    And for more than one hundred years the trees have probably not been tended but certainly been spared the axe
    and the lightning and unhappy accidents, and survived to delight you.

    And this week, this week of softening
    and relentless rain, someone lifted their hand level with their heart or higher—
    sixty-eight times to the branches
    while shaking the weather
    out of their hair—
    and doing this, they thought of you.

    So plunge your clean hands in the bowl (What else is there to do?)
    and pick out the stems and leaves;
    tear into the rain-soft flesh,

    the sun-bright flesh, to pry out the pits;
    and think of how you will carry forward joy when you leave jars of warm jam
    on many doorsteps in the morning.
    Cambridge Forum
  • We think we know what happened in 1621 — why Thanksgiving was held, how the Wampanoag were invited, what the Pilgrims ate – but first Thanksgiving facts, as most Americans have been taught in the years since, are not exactly accurate.

    Learn more about the real Thanksgiving story, as shared by Brad Musquantamôsq Lopes (Aquinnah Wampanoag), Director of Wampanoag and Indigenous Interpretation and Training at Plimoth Patuxet Museums and Tom Begley, Deputy Director of Collections, Research, & Public Engagement at Plimoth Patuxet Museums. Together, Brad and Tom will offer historical and cultural perspectives related to the first Thanksgiving story and gratitude as a way of life for Indigenous Peoples. Topics to be explored include:

    - The historical events that led up to the “First Thanksgiving” feast
    - Who sat at the table
    - What food was served
    - How long the feast lasted
    - Traditions of gratitude that informed Thanksgiving
    - How Thanksgiving has been observed from 1621 to today

    Don’t miss this unique opportunity to separate fact from fiction with our experts, and gain a deeper understanding of the real Thanksgiving story.
    More about our speakers
    Brad Musquantamôsq Lopes is the Director of Wampanoag and Indigenous Interpretation and Training at Plimoth Patuxet Museums, located in the homelands of his people, the Wampanoag Nation. A proud citizen of the Aquinnah Wampanoag community with a degree in Secondary Education from the University of Maine at Farmington, Brad has worked as a classroom teacher, curriculum developer, and most recently as a Program Director for the Aquinnah Cultural Center on Noepe (Martha’s Vineyard). In this role, Brad oversees the Wampanoag and Indigenous training program and the implementation of interpretive content and techniques surrounding the understanding of Indigenous people both in the past and today.

    Tom Begley is the Deputy Director of Collections, Research, & Public Engagement at Plimoth Patuxet Museums. He has been with the museum since 2014 and has a Bachelor's degree in U.S. History from Stonehill College and is completing his Master's degree in Public History at UMass Boston. In his current role, Tom directs the research facilities and the operations across the exhibit and living history spaces. He served as editor on the facsimile of William Bradford's Of Plimoth Plantation published in collaboration with the State Library of Massachusetts and guided Plimoth Patuxet's successful application to list Mayflower II on the National Register of Historic Places.

    About Plimoth Patuxet
    Plimoth Patuxet is one of the nation’s foremost living history museums. Founded in 1947, the museum creates engaging experiences of history built on thorough research about the Indigenous and European people who met along Massachusetts' historic shores in the 1600s. Immersive and educational encounters underscore the collaborations as well as the culture clash and conflicts of the 17th century people of this region. Major exhibits include the Historic Patuxet Homesite, the 17th-Century English Village, Mayflower II, and Plimoth Grist Mill.

    More about Ask the Expert
    At Ask the Expert, get access to experts specializing in a wide variety of topics, learn something new about a subject you are passionate about or discover a new interest. GBH invites you to drive the conversation by asking questions during the live event directly with our expert. It’s always interesting, and it’s always free!

    This event is presented in partnership with Plimoth Patuxet Museums.

    Photo credit: Kathy Tarantola/Plimoth Patuxet Museums
    GBH Events
  • Why is it that historic figures such as Samuel Adams, James Otis, and John Hancock are remembered as heroes, yet Metacom—the Wampanoag leader whom the English called King Philip—is virtually unknown? The year 2025 will mark the 350th anniversary of the devastating and bloody conflict between New England colonists and Indigenous people that is most commonly known to history as King Philip’s War. However, very little is known about his campaign to end English mistreatment and his fight for independence and property rights for his people. Throughout the 1830s, Willam Apess, a Pequot minister and activist, continued fighting for Indian rights. Revolutionary Spaces is proud to celebrate the legacy of both Apess and Metacom at A Community Reading of William Apess’s Eulogy on King Philip (Metacom), where we commemorate the ideals for which they fought—ideals that were not so different from those that Americans fought for in 1775.

    This talk is produced in partnership with the Institute for New England Native American Studies (INENAS) at the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Northeastern Humanities Center.

    Moderating is J. Cedric Woods (Lumbee), Director of INENAS. Drew Lopenzina, Professor of Early American and Native American Literature at Old Dominion University, provides historical context for the eulogy and the 19th-century events that informed Apess’s writing. Guest speakers then read excerpts from the eulogy followed by a brief panel discussion to critically address the history of Native American conversion to Christianity, the significance of King Philip’s War, and the importance of Apess’s eulogy.
    Revolutionary Spaces
  • Likely the last in her family line to qualify for tribal citizenship with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Leah Myers elegantly blends Native folklore, personal history, and the search for identity in this highly anticipated memoir, Thinning Blood.

    Because of her tribe’s strict blood quantum laws, Leah Myers may be the last of her family to be formally recognized as a member of her tribe. For her, this realization carries with it a responsibility to preserve her heritage and her ancestors’ memory. Thinning Blood is Myers’s attempt to capture a record of her family’s history, presenting the stories of four generations of women. Beginning with her great-grandmother, the last full-blooded Native member in their lineage, she connects each woman with her totem to construct her family’s totem pole: protective Bear, defiant Salmon, compassionate Hummingbird, and perched on top, Raven. Myers weaves together tribal folktales, the history of the Native genocide, and Native mythology. With fresh perspectives and profound insight, she offers crisp and powerful vignettes of her own life between White and Native worlds. Thinning Blood is at once a bold reclamation of her female identity and a searingly honest meditation on heritage, family, and what it means to belong.

    Leah Myers is in conversation with Kaitlin Curtice, also author, poet-storyteller and member of the Potawatomi nation.
    American Ancestors Boston Public Library
  • The long practice of ignoring Indigenous history is changing, with a new generation of scholars insisting that any full American history address the struggle, survival, and resurgence of American Indian nations. Ned Blackhawk interweaves five centuries of Native and non‑Native histories, from Spanish colonial exploration to the rise of Native American self-determination in the late 20th-century. He argues that European colonization in the 1600s was never a predetermined success; Native nations helped shape England’s crisis of empire; the first shots of the American Revolution were prompted by Indian affairs in the interior; California’s Indians targeted by federally funded militias were among the first casualties of the Civil War; the Union victory forever recalibrated Native communities across the West; and 20th-century reservation activists refashioned American law and policy. Blackhawk’s retelling of US history acknowledges the enduring power, agency, and survival of Indigenous peoples, yielding a truer account of the United States and revealing anew the varied meanings of America.
    Massachusetts Historical Society
  • What was Cambridge like back when it was called Newtowne and even before that? A new history book, ostensibly for kids, aims to paint a more multi-dimensional view of the area charting its cultural influences and history starting back 10,000 years ago, when indigenous people farmed, fished and built communities there. The Massachusett tribe were the first documented humans known to have lived on this land. Art Historian **Suzanne Preston Blier**, Harvard Professor of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies has just published “_The Streets of Newtowne: A Story of Cambridge, MA._” Blier, a Cambridge civic activist, serves as President of the Harvard Square Neighborhood Association, a group she helped to found in 2017. Joining her to help amplify our understanding of Newtowne’s diverse past are **Nicola Williams**, President of The Williams Agency, located in an historic building on Story Street. Once a boarding house run by former slave Harriet Jacobs, who self-published her book, “_Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl_” Jacobs went on to become an abolitionist, activist and suffragette. Williams serves on the board of the Sustainable Business Network of Boston. Also **Sage Carbone**, Community Programs Director for the Fenway Community Development Corporation. Sage is a descendant of the Massachusett tribe and a resident of Cambridge, where she is active in the collective Cambridge City Growers which distributes thousands of seedlings to urban gardeners. Augmenting the historical discussion will be **Daniel Berger-Jones**, in the guise of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who delivered his famous “American Scholar” address in the church in 1837. This speech was referred to as America's "Intellectual Declaration of Independence” by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Turn up in person or sign up now to register for the event. ### Resources [ Winthrop Park – Cambridge’s first Puritan settlement and the first Planned City in North America is under the care of the Winthrop Park Trust: ](https://www.winthropparktrust.org/) [The Vassal-Craigie-Longfellow House on Brattle Street (National Park Service)](https://www.nps.gov/long/index.htm) [Ned Blackhawk’s new book “The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of US History”](https://www.portersquarebooks.com/book/9780300244052) [Link to Cambridge Day article on MIT and Indigenous People genocide ](https://www.cambridgeday.com/2023/05/08/an-indigenous-look-into-mit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=an-indigenous-look-into-mit) Impage copyright: Envato
    Cambridge Forum
  • Join Jess Alvarez-Parfrey, Nathan Lou, and William Wildcat (Coakí) for an exploration of ancestral connections, and transformative opportunities to nurture a truly regenerative, just, joyful, and climate resilient future. Bringing together diverse cultural backgrounds, skills, and experiences, our panel of practitioners will share their story, and explore the theme of “regeneration” as it relates to our connection to place, purpose, and community. In a time of multiple converging and complex crises, a rising generation of change-makers are reclaiming connections to ancestral wisdoms and the critical skills needed to feed, heal, and nurture their communities. The panel will also delve into a powerful discussion around Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), “work”, “citizen science”, and share their visions for regenerative bioregional cultures and economies of care.
    Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
  • The True Cost of Colonization: American History from an Indigenous Perspective Paula Peters is a scholar and a politically, socially, and culturally active member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. She’ll discuss the romanticized myth of the Pilgrims' arrival and the true cost of colonization from the perspective of the indigenous people. By exploring the history of contact prior to 1620 we can begin to understand the decisions that were made upon their arrival off the coast of Cape Cod and the transition from the village of Patuxet to the Plimoth colony. This talk is sponsored by the Baxter Fund and is part of the Repairing America Initiative at the Boston Public Library, a pledge to focus its 2021 programming and services on bridging the gaps that divide America. By prioritizing economic recovery, civic engagement, COVID-19 recovery, racial equity, workforce development, and youth engagement, the BPL is working to help Americans rise above the challenges they face.
    Boston Public Library
  • Native American and Indigenous people model economic and social exchanges on reciprocity and relationships in all systems. Centering this and other Indigenous wisdom has led to significant and meaningful contributions to the advancement of conservation, protection, and environmental justice, especially in the lives of youth. Dawn Knickerbocker belongs to the Anishinaabe people, is a citizen of White Earth Nation/gaa waabaabiganikaag, and a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe from the Ottertail Pillager Band of Indians. Juan D. Martinez Pineda is a Senior Program Manager at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and proud descendant of the Be'ena' Za' Zapotec people. Together they will explore how centering culture, reciprocity, and relationship can fulfill this country's promise to lift up all people. This talk is part of the Life Saves the Planet lecture series. More info: https://bio4climate.org/ ### RESOURCES Learn more about the land you are on and the peoples who have walked there: https://native-land.ca/ Learn more about The power of cultures, igniting futures with Fresh Tracks https://aspencommunitysolutions.org/f... Learn more about Native Americans in Philanthropy https://nativephilanthropy.org/
    Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
  • November is National Native American Heritage Month. The Curiosity Desk’s Edgar B Herwick III is joined by award-winning filmmaker Katsitsionni Fox and President of the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB), Jean-Luc Pierite. NAICOB is the only urban Indian center in Massachusetts that has provided cultural, social, educational and professional services to the New England Native American community for over 50 years. Learn more about Indigenous culture and linguistics with Edgar, Katsitsionni and Jean-Luc.